Apple I goes for $213K in Christie's auction

Christie's auction house in London today sold an Apple I computer for £133,250, or $213,600.

The lot, which went up for auction at 9:30 a.m. ET today, had an estimated value of between $160,300 and $240,450.

The Apple I sold today came with the original packaging, manuals, cassette interface and basic tape, early documentation and provenance, and a commercially rare letter from Steve Jobs.

Two hundred Apple I computers are estimated to have been created and sold for $666.66 before Apple Computer Inc. was founded in 1977. Once the Apple II, the company's first official product, was released, many of the Apple I models were reclaimed as trade-ins. Only about 50 are still known to exist, many of them indexed by hardware developer Mike Willegal.

Of those 200 machines, Christie's Apple I is No. 82. This same Apple I is thought to be the same on that was sold on eBay in November 2009 by a user named "apple1sale" to "julescw72". At the time, it sold for a winning bid of $50,000.

The winner of the Christie's auction was Marco Boglione, an Italian collector.

The original Apple I was sold as a fully assembled circuit board with 4KB of memory but no case, power supply, keyboard or monitor. Christie's Apple I included the machine's original packaging, manuals, cassette interface and basic tape, documentation and a letter from Steve Jobs, but some parts may not have been original, said computer hobbyist and retrocomputing expert Eric Rucker.

"The CPU is a Rockwell plastic part, not a MOS [6502] white ceramic part," he noted , identifying what Christie's item description called "a few slightly later additions."

Apple I inventor and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was on hand for the auction, according to the Wall Street Journal.

[Read more about Macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.]

Updated at 7:23PM pacific to add the name of the auction winner.

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