Collectors take a byte: the world's first Apple computer sells for $210,000

At more than 400 times the cost of the latest iPad, you might expect the Apple-1 to be the pinnacle of modern computer technology. But in this case the model in question comes without a keyboard or monitor, and you have to build the case yourself.

As the very first of Apple's revolutionary home computers launched in 1976 from a suburban garage, the Apple-1 was one of only 200 ever made.

And at Christie's yesterday (November 23) Italian collector Marco Boglione paid $210,000 for the privilege of owning a true piece of cultural and computer history.

The Apple-1 (which originally sold for $666.66) came in its original packaging with instruction manuals and a signed letter by its co-creator Steve Jobs, who is still head of the company. It is thought to be one of the few remaining examples in existence.

The first Apple home computer worked straight out of the
box, but you had to build your own case to put it in

Present at the auction in London was another of Apple's co-founders Steve Wozniak, who agreed to add an autographed letter as part of the lot.

The computer was sold as part of an auction featuring other revolutionary pieces of technology such as an Enigma machine, used during World War II to crack German codes, and the writings of Alan Turing, seen by many as one of the fathers of modern computing.

The lightening speed at which home computer technology moves on means systems soon become out-dated, but a mere 30 years after their inception collectors are already starting to look back with nostalgia on the early models.

The market for collectible technology such as primitive home computers is still in its infancy, which could mean a great opportunity for entry-level investors to pick up a bargain.

Computers have truly revolutionised the world we live in, and as years go by models such as the Apple-1 will surely be seen as important historical artefacts with a value far bigger than the size of their RAM.


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