Christie’s is auctioning off an Apple I, introduced in 1976, at a starting bid of $161,000.
Christie’s auction house, famed for its multimillion-dollar sales of paintings, is auctioning off an original Apple I, and it believes the machine will sell for between $161,000 and $242,400. The Apple I, developed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, originally sold for $666.66.
The winning bidder won’t be able to do much with it, but it’s a terrific conversation piece. "Introduced in July 1976, the Apple I was sold without a casing, power supply, keyboard or monitor," according to Christie’s promotional material for the auction. "Because the motherboard was completely pre-assembled, it represented a major step forward in comparison with the competing self-assembly kits of the day."
The auction, set for Nov. 23 at Christie’s in London, is part of a broader event, in which additional computing artifacts will be offered. These include a book by Charles Babbage, the 19th century English inventor whose mostly wooden Analytical Engine is considered the precursor of the modern electronic digital computer. Also available is an Enigma cipher machine whose codes were broken by British scientists during World War II, revealing important strategic information on the Nazi regime.
An earlier Christie's auction, in 2005, of vintage computer artifacts began to establish value for antique computing memorabilia and drew bids totaling $714,000. The best-selling item from that collection was an 1842 manuscript by Augusta Ada King, the daughter of the poet Lord George Gordon Bryon. She was Babbage's chief mathematician and is considered the first computer programmer. The Ada computing language is named after her.
The Apple offering includes "a commercially rare letter from Steve Jobs,” according to Christie's. Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak created their first computers in Jobs’ parents' garage. They made an estimated 200 copies of their Apple I before introducing the Apple II in April 1977.