updated 06:35 pm EST, Tue November 23, 2010
Included cassette interface, letter from Jobs
A rare Apple I computer assembled by Steve Wozniak -- of which only around 50 are thought to exist -- has sold at Christie's auction house for £133,250 ($213,600), slightly below what the company had seen as the high end of its estimate but nonetheless a record price for any personal computer. Wozniak himself was on hand to autograph the machine for the winning bidder, and called the original Apple "an important step" that put "the whole formula [for how personal computer work] out there for the world to see."
In a bit of irony, the BBC's video of the closing moments of the auction was shot by one of the attendees ... on a mobile phone. Today's mobile phones offer at least 1,000 times the processing power of the original Apple I. Made between 1976 and 1977, only about 200 of the earliest model were ever made, all hand-assembled.
The particular copy up for auction (#82) included a signed letter from Jobs suggesting monitors that could be used with the machine, and all the original support materials, including the optional cassette interface card and the original bill of sale ($741.66), including the cassette adapter and tax. The operation manual is also notable for having the original Apple logo on it, depicting Sir Issac Newton under the apple tree.
The Associated Press has reported that the winning bidder was a private collector named Marco Boglione.