But this was no solid gold MacBook Pro or diamond-encrusted iMac. It wasn’t even a MacBook Air welded to a Ferrari engine, though admittedly that would look a bit weird. No, we’re talking about Apple’s oldest computer, the Apple-1, one of which sold at auction on Saturday for this mind-boggling sum.
The sale took place at the Team Breker auction house in the German city of Cologne – the same house that brought the hammer down on another working Apple-1 at the end of last year, with that one going for a similarly hefty $640,000. Another one sold at Sotheby’s in New York almost a year ago for $374,500.
The Apple-1 was, as its name suggests, the tech giant’s very first computer, built in the mid-1970s by company co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, and sold for $666. Of the roughly 200 units made by the pair, around 50 are thought to still exist, with just six of those in working condition.
The Apple-1 is a simple affair, consisting pretty much of a circuit board and little else. No monitor. No keyboard. And, as the NY Times once pointed out, its 8 KB of RAM meant this machine “could barely power a game of Pong.”
Apple-product collector Lonnie Mimms, who himself owns two Apple-1 units, explained recently why he thinks the old Apple computer is such a hit at auctions. “The Apple-1, because of Apple’s status now in the world, is the beginning of that company,” Mimms said. “For corporate America and for the computer industry, there isn’t anything more iconic than that in existence.”
Auctioneer Uwe Breker told the NY Times he believes the Apple-1 computer is “a superb symbol of the American dream.”
“You have two college dropouts from California who pursued an idea and a dream, and that dream becomes one of the most admired, successful and valuable companies in the world,” Breker said.
He added that the new owner of the freshly auctioned Apple-1 is “a wealthy entrepreneur from the Far East who wishes to remain anonymous.”