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Used Computer: $116,000 Starting Bid for an Original Apple-1

Image: Used Computer: $116,000 Starting Bid for an Original Apple-1 The Apple I, the first Apple computer made by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976, was produced at 200 units, with only some 50 units surviving and six known to be in working condition.

Friday, 24 May 2013 12:43 PM

By Michael Mullins

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An original Apple-1 computer is being auctioned off in Cologne, Germany this Saturday for $116,000.

In recent years, Apple-1 computers have been sold for anywhere between $374,500 last June at Sotheby’s in New York and a record $640,000 last November in the same Cologne auction house.

The machine was released in 1976 by the Apple Computer Company – now Apple Inc., for the ticket price of $666.66.

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According to The New York Times, the sky-rocketing bids for the machines is due to the "economics of scarcity and techno-fetishism, magnified by the mystique surrounding Apple and its founders, as the company has become one of the largest, most profitable corporations in the world."

German auctioneer Uwe Breker, who auctioned off the item last fall, was surprised by the $640,000 bid for the Apple-1 computer, conservatively estimating the machine on the auction block Saturday will likely go for somewhere between $260,000 to $400,000.

Nonworking machines are not as valuable, with a dead Apple-1 failing to attract a $75,000 reserve price at a London auction last year.

As for whether such auctions represent an irrational exuberance, technology historians say no.

"It is Apple’s creation story, the physical artifact that traces this incredible success to its origins," Dag Spicer, a senior curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. told The Times.

One of the reasons for their value is their scarcity.

An estimated 175 to 200 Apple-1 computers were produced by Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a Los Altos, Calif., garage in the 1970s.

According to Cisco software manager Mike Willegal, who maintains an Apple-1 online registry, of the less than 200 machines built, just 46 of the machines can currently be accounted for.

According to the German auctioneer, Saturday's Apple-1 was originally owned by former major league baseball player Fred Hatfield, who having played for five teams between 1950 to 1958, was known as "scrap iron."

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Hatfield died in 1998 at the age 73.

The current owner is reportedly a young American who works for a software company.
Further details were not provided by Breker, who would only tell The Times that the seller "brought it over here in a blanket."

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