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Working Apple-1 sells at auction for record-breaking $640,000

It’s often said that we pay a premium for Apple products, but this is ridiculous. It’s emerged that late last month, at an auction in Germany, an Apple-1 computer fetched a mind-boggling $640,000, smashing the previous record for an Apple-1 sold at auction of $374,500. The sale took place at the Team Breker auction house in the city of Cologne, according to the Classic Computing website. It’s not known who bought the machine.

As its name cleverly suggests, the Apple-1 was Apple’s very first computer, hand-built by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in the garage of Jobs’ family home way back in 1976. It sold for $666.66, a somewhat bizarre-looking price tag arrived at because Wozniak was apparently into repeating digits. According to Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, neither Jobs nor Wozniak knew at the time that 666 symbolized the number of the beast. Some people complained.

Only 200 Apple-1 units were made, of which about 50 are known to still exist. Of these, only six are believed to be in working condition. The computer was replaced a year later in 1977 by the Apple II.

Attempting to explain why collectors go ga-ga over (really) old Apple products, Roswell, Ga. resident Lonnie Mimms, a keen collector himself (he has two Apple-1 units), told Classic Computing, “The Apple-1, because of Apple’s status now in the world, is the beginning of that company. For corporate America and for the computer industry, there isn’t anything more iconic than that in existence.”

The previous record for an Apple-1 computer sold at auction was $374,500. The sale took place at Sotheby’s in New York in June 2012 alongside another piece of rare Apple memorabilia – a four-page memo handwritten by Steve Jobs in 1974 during his time at video game company Atari. That went for an incredible $27,500.

[via Apple Insider]