updated 03:55 pm EST, Thu November 11, 2010
Computer now extremely rare
Christie's of London is preparing to auction off one of the first Apple computers ever built, at a starting bid of £150,000, writes the Daily Mail. The system is an Apple I, of which about 200 were produced beginning in 1976. It originally sold for $666.66, and had just 8K of memory. No keyboard or video display was included, but support for either put it ahead of rival machines based on switches and LEDs.
The auction lot includes computer parts, instruction manuals and a signed letter by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The value of the collection is attributable to several factors. Aside from its connection to Jobs and the history of Apple, it represents one of the earliest personal computers, and also the first pre-assembled one. "Before the Apple I you would have to put together your own motherboard and would need soldering skills," according to Christie's Julian Wilson. In the letter, Jobs answers questions about which monitors and keyboards might be best to use.
More importantly the Apple I is now extremely rare, with roughly 50 left in existence. The auction bundle even includes the optional cassette interface, which added read/write support for an extra $75. "And finding one in this condition is unheard of," adds Wilson. The Christie's auction will take place in London on November 23rd.