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.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
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

    Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Technical Business Analyst/SQL Development - London - Permanent - £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Admin - £35,000 - 5 month FTC

    £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 5 month Fixed Term Contract - Telecommunicati...

    Telecoms Engineer - Telecoms Administrator - London - £26,000

    £26000 per annum + 25 days holiday & further benefits: Ashdown Group: Telecomm...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?