We all have old computers quietly rusting away and/or leaching toxic chemicals into our basement. And most of them are essentially not worth the minerals they’re made out of. But one computer in particular, primitive though it may be, is worth quite a bit more than usual, because it was the genesis of Apple.
Specifically, it’s an Apple I, designed and built by none other than Steve Wozniak. The Apple I was actually revolutionary when it debuted in 1976, because, and this will sound very, very familiar to Apple followers, a lot of it was already preassembled for you. Sure, you had to add the power supply, case, keyboard, and display, but the guts of the computer itself being assembled made it much more accessible to hobbyists.
The Apple I is a fairly scarce machine for two reasons: First off, they only ever sold 200 units. Secondly, when Apple transitioned to selling the Apple II in 1977, they started a program where users could trade their Apple I in for a discount, because Steve Wozniak was literally the only person at the company who could offer anything resembling technical support.
Currently, only 48 of the 200 sold are known to be out in the wild, although there are naturally plenty of people claiming to just so happen to have one. This one, from the garage of a retired school psychologist, will be auctioned off at a price starting at $300,000, but it can easily get double that: Just last month a working one sold for $668,000. Not bad for something that cost $666.66.
If you want to screw around with an Apple I, but don’t have six hundred grand lying around, there’s good news: For $150, you can get the Replica 1 from Briel Computers, and glory in all four kilobytes of RAM. Yes, four. What do you want? It was 1976.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.