A prototype Apple-1 computer has sold for more than $677,000 at auction. The machine is said to have been "hand-soldered by Woz in 1976 and used to secure Apple's first big order.
While there is some controversy over whether that's the case at all, that doesn't seem to have stopped one auction-goer from ponying up the big bucks. Whether this was indeed a machine that Woz hand-soldered or not, it's clearly a very early prototype.
It's also a board that has provenance, with auction house RR Auction saying "the board has been matched to Polaroid photographs taken by Paul Terrell in 1976 showing the prototype in use, first published by Time Magazine in 2012 and also covered by Achim Baqué of the Apple-1 Registry.
At home in the 'Apple Garage'
The auction description goes on to say that the "prototype resided on the 'Apple Garage' property for many years before being given by Steve Jobs to its current owner approximately 30 years ago," which is a long time. The handover took place after Jobs had left Apple and was about to begin his Pixar and NeXT adventure.
Early Apple prototypes going up for auction isn't necessarily a new thing, but this one is particularly notable given the claim that it was hand-soldered by Woz himself, and the doubts over that claim's validity just adds to the intrigue.
We don't know who won the auction, but it's possible they bagged a bargain. RR Auction thought that the item would sell for upwards of 500,000, suggesting this prototype sold for below expectations.
Considering a fully assembled Apple-1 sold for $666.66, it's fair to say this costs quite a lot more than anyone ever intended back in 1976.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.