Apple I auction fails to break 500K

Anyone who has bought an Apple computer knows they aren’t exactly budget-priced. While they’re an excellent product for quality and reliability, they do tend to run higher in price than other computers. But Apple has a following – consumers who are loyal to the brand and see it as a pop culture icon and way of life, not just a computer company.

A prime example of the popularity of everything Apple, and a reminder of where it all started from, is the original Apple I computer. Originally sold for $666.66, it was the first pre-made computer to come with 8K of RAM (524,000 times less memory than what you’d get today) and without a monitor or other components.

There were approximately 200 made by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak which were sold out of Jobs’ garage and would become the frontrunner to today’s iMac, MacBook, iPad and iPhone. To date, only 30 to 50 are known to still exist, and those who want them are willing to pay for the privilege of owning such an iconic machine.

In 2010 it was reported that one was due to sell at Christie’s auction house in London for approximately $200,000. The then-35 year old computer came with the actual unit, box, manuals and a letter from Steve Jobs himself.

In 2012, Sotheby’s auction house had another on offer and at that time was expecting to start bids for it at approximately $140,000 to $180,000. With it came the motherboard, cassette and original BASIC manual.

Then, in May of this year, one sold in Germany for $671,400 and in America, Christie’s auction house is currently accepting bids on another along with other various Apple antiquities in an exclusive online auction.

The most recent Apple I was acquired in 1976 by a Californian school psychologist. He exchanged other computer parts for the Apple I and used it to program interactive lessons for special needs school children. The prized computer was signed by Steve Wozniak and bears the serial number 01-0025, making it one of the first 25 ever created. However, it’s spent the last few years in storage and its owner has decided it’s time to pass it on.

Bids for the rare machine started at $300,000 and was expected to bring in around $500,000. However, by the time the auction had closed on July 9th it had only reached $387,750 falling short of its mark. Other Apple treasures up for grabs in the auction include floppy discs containing one of Apple’s first spreadsheet programs and a prototype portable computer reportedly several times thicker than the current generation of MacBooks.

These gems of Apple history remind us of just how far technology has progressed in the last 30 years. And original machines like the Apple I have become especially sought-after since the death of the company’s iconic CEO, Steve Jobs, in 2011. For those who love Mac and can afford to shell out the money, the chance to collect such a rare artifact is a thrill too good to pass up.