Apple 1 computer sells for £230,000

Fully working Apple 1 computer sells for £230,000. Can you make money from your old technology

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US-CHRISTIES-APPLE COMPUTER

You could be forgiven for thinking that your old computer isn't worth as much as the box your new computer came in. You're probably right. Unless, of course, your old computer happens to be a fully functioning Apple 1, in which case it's worth about £230,000. At least that is what one has sold for at auction.

The reason there's so much value in a piece of old technology with less functionality than an iPhone is that the Apple 1 was actually hand-made by Steve Wozniak. According to the BBC, this particular model was then sold by Steve Job from his garage in California in 1976. In total around 200 were sold, but only about 50 are still in existence, and far fewer actually work.

In fact, whoever picked this one up got a bit of a bargain: the Henry Ford organisation bought one in October for $905,000, and Christies thought this model would sell for between $400,000 and $600,000. Some commentators were speculating that it could break the $1 million barrier (it actually went for $365,000).

Why not more?

This one may be worth less because Jobs did some further programming work on the computer after it was sold. Wired magazine says it was probably to enable things to be stored on audio cassette and run Apple's version of Basic programming language. Alternatively the lower selling price may simply have been down to those who were at the auction on the day not having deep enough pockets.

The seller, Bob Luther, may have been disappointed with the final sale price, but he's made a decent profit from it. He picked it up ten years ago at a Washington Sheriff's auction, and paid $7,600 for the computer and a manual. He told Wired that people kept telling him he'd overpaid at the time.

Money for old technology

Of course, you're unlikely to have anything anywhere near as valuable lying around at home. However, there's a good chance you have a reasonable range of old mobile phones lying around collecting dust, and these can be worth more than you think.

The most lucrative way to cash in is to sell it yourself on eBay. If it's a relatively new or desirable model you'll get up to a third more through this method than any other way. You'll get less if it is damaged, but you'd be surprised how much an iPhone with a smashed screen will fetch online.

Alternatively, if you don't have the time to sell it yourself, you can use one of the recycling companies. To sell it this way it needs to be in reasonable condition, with the original battery. You have to be able to switch it on, and any damage should be minimal. You don't need the charger, so you could make more by keeping it and selling it on eBay, or just throw it in to be certain it's recycled properly.

You let the company know what you have and they'll quote you a price. If you accept it, they'll send you an envelope, you send off the phone, and they post you some cash. If they don't think it's as good as you said it was, they'll either reject it or contact you and offer you less. The different companies make very different offers, so if you choose to sell this way, make sure you check a few of them.

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