Rare Apple computer could sell for $500,000

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Apple 1

Ted Perry, a 70 year old retired school psychologist and computer collector, is selling his Apple 1 computer. It's hardly beautiful - and is essentially a green piece of plastic covered with memory chips and hooked up to an ancient keyboard. It has a million times less memory than a typical computer today, and a fraction of the processing power of a smartphone.

So why is it expected to fetch $500,000?


Apple 1

The computer in question is the Apple 1, which was the first computer designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, which led to him setting up the Apple company with Steve Jobs.

It may not come with a proper keyboard, or monitor - or even a case for the memory board, but it's a piece of computing history, because at the time it was the first personal computer that users could plug in and use, without having to build it themselves.

There were only about 200 ever made, and there are thought to be fewer than 50 still around. They were originally sold for $666.66.

According to the Telegraph, Perry himself bought the machine second hand in 1979 - swapping it for some other technology. Christies, which is selling the computer, said that Perry started collecting Apple products after dealing with the company in the 1970s, and finding Wozniak very supportive of the use of Apple computers for education.

He said in a statement: "Apple cares about education, and as Woz supported education directly from the beginning by actively providing any and all information we needed for the project, I started collecting Apple products. As I found the Apple-1, I was delighted to add it to my collection."

How much?

It is being sold at Christie's in New York next month, where it is expected to fetch $500,000 (£323,000). In keeping with the fact that the entire auction is made up of technology, all bids will be online.

This seems like a conservative estimate. According to CNN, in May an Apple 1 set a new record, selling for $671,000 at a German auction house. At the time Bob Luther, the author of The First Apple, said: "It's really the holy grail of collectable technology."

Apple products have never been more popular, which means that anything rare that comes up at auction stands a good chance of reaching a big price. In 2008 Wozniak's empty toolbox sold for $7,000, then in 2011 a 20th year anniversary Macintosh computer sold for $2,000. The Apple Lisa, retailed for $10,000 in the 1980s, but one was sold in 2010 for $15,000.

But the biggest price of all was reserved for the founding documents of the Apple computer company. They were sold at Sotheby's in 2011, and although they had a $150,000 estimate, they eventually fetched $1.59 million.

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