For sale: gadget that was the making of a geek called Steve Jobs

It has no keyboard, no monitor and comes with just 8 kilobytes of memory – enough to hold about a 225th of a single song track – and is worth more than its weight in gold.

An Apple I, one of the world's earliest personal computers, will go up for auction later this month and is expected to fetch around £150,000.

Designed by Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the computer was built by hand in a garage owned by Mr Jobs's parents.

In 1976 and 1977 the pair of fledgling hardware designers handmade 200 of the machines, which helped kick-start a technological revolution that brought affordable computers out of science labs and into people's homes.

Unlike most hobby computers of the time, which had to be assembled from kits, the Apple I came partly assembled, making it the closest thing at the time to a computer that worked straight out of the box.

Only an estimated 30 to 50 units are still known to exist. But according to Christie's, which is holding the auction on 23 November, very few of the surviving Apple Is are in "such good, near-original condition with associated ephemera and full provenance".

For collectors of retro hardware, part of this particular computer's appeal will lie with some of the paraphernalia that accompanies the lot. It comes in an original box – with the return address pointing back to the California garage where Apple Corp began – and features the original Apple logo, which showed Isaac Newton getting hit on the head with an apple.

It also includes a signed note from Mr Jobs, the original manuals and an invoice dated 12/07/1976.

Most of the technical genius behind the Apple I came from Mr Wozniak, known amongst tech fans as the "Wonder Wizard of Woz". Mr Jobs brought magic to marketing and selling, something which has helped him turn Apple into a global company with a die-hard core of fans.

The pair met in the early 1970s as high school friends working on a mainframe computer, and decided to set up their own company. They sold Mr Wozniak's scientific calculator and Mr Jobs's Volkswagen van to raise money for their new enterprise. The Apple I was the result of seven years of work, trying to figure out how to make a comparatively cheap, mass-produced computer that could be easily assembled by hobbyists. It lacked a case, power supply, keyboard or display, which had to be provided by the user. But the fully-assembled circuit board, complete with more than 60 chips, was a revolutionary design. Previously customers had to solder their own motherboards, but the Apple I helped lay the foundations for the company's first mass-produced and highly successful home computer, the Apple II.

Not all tech reporters are convinced the computer will fetch such a high auction price. Wired.co.uk says: "Despite its incredible rarity, the Apple I has previously been known to fetch at best $50,000 at auction, and typically garners more like $14,000 to $16,000." Others quipped that the original price tag – equivalent to about £1,500 in today's money, was simply the start of Apple's tradition of selling its hardware with a higher price-tag than many of its competitors. "Even 34 years ago Apple's hardware was shockingly expensive," remarked Steven Mostyn, on Tech Herald.

Those unable to fork out such a large amount of money for a piece of computing history can rest assured there is a cheaper alternative. Last year an Apple fan unveiled the Replica I, a new copy of the Apple I built with Mr Wozniak's permission, which retails at $149.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Gazetteer Consultant

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking to work for an ...

    Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test