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In what could possibly be the highest price ever fetched for a piece of Apple memorabilia, a new original 1976 Apple-1 has just been spotted on eBay, with the seller asking for a cool $1.5 million.
Although over the years we’ve seen very early Apple computers going for close to $1 million in formal auctions, this latest public eBay auction exceeds that by half, but it’s also arguably an even rarer and more significant find than we’ve ever seen before.
While only 200 Apple 1 computers were ever made, this particular model claims to be one of only six surviving units that still have the original Byte Shop KOA wood case, and on top of that, it’s reportedly in full working condition with the unmodified NTI motherboard in pristine condition.
The unit is identified as number 79 in the official Apple-1 registry, and while its designed as a “Canadian” unit, as its owner, Krishna B. Blake, ran an Apple repair centre in Montreal, the computer is physically located in a bank vault in Boca Raton, Florida.
The provenance of this Apple-1 system is seen in #79 on the Official Apple-1 Registry, as the second owner. I took possession in early 1978 from the original owner as part of a trade-in for a newer Apple II computer at the computer store where I maintained all Apple IIs in Montreal, Canada until Apple came to Canada.
Blake is also including an original Sony TV-115 monitor in the sale — the specific unit recommended by Steve Jobs for use with the Apple-1, along with the video modulator. He also notes that the transformer area on the case was reinforced to prevent the kind of damage that’s befallen other similar Apple-1 cases over the past few decades, while the Apple-1 registry page also notes that the video connector had been removed by the original owner as it didn’t fit properly in the case, and the keyboard connector was later replaced by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen.
This particular Apple-1 unit also features a couple of other distinction not seen on other early models, including a “version D” keyboard which Apple-1 enthusiasts hadn’t previously known existed, and the differences in the keyboard and related connectors had led to speculation that this unit may be been designed for military use, and in fact may have been a prototype as the board was entirely hand-soldered — quite likely by none other than Steve Wozniak himself.
According to Blake, this Apple-1 unit lived in a controlled environment in his basement from 1978 until 2015, being powered up a couple of times a year. However, when Blake realized how valuable the unit had become, in 2015 he had his sons go and fetch it, had it certified and appraised by several Apple-1 experts, and eventually moved it to the bank vault in Florida.
In August 2019, the system was also brought out to be shown off at the Vintage Computer Festival West, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, where it was one of only two units that were continually operated throughout the show, running for over six hours each day.
While we’ll have to wait and see whether Blake will get the $1.5 million he’s asking for, the fact that it’s in the original wooden case and in working condition means that it’s not outside the realm of possibility. The current record-holder is an Apple 1 that supposedly came from one of the first 50 units that Wozniak built himself, which fetched $905,000 back in 2014. Others have had a harder time breaking the $500,000 barrier, but it’s also extremely rare to find a unit that’s not only fully operational but also includes the original wooden casing.
Notably, however, this isn’t the first time that Blake has attempted to auction off the vintage Apple computer; the same unit was up on eBay in October 2019 with a $1.75 million asking price which obviously didn’t attract any serious offers, so it remains to be seen whether a quarter-million-dollar price drop and the passing of another 15 months will make a difference this time around.