updated 10:40 pm EDT, Wed April 11, 2012
Pre-production original offers 'Twiggy' drive
While Ebay has been host to a number of Apple prototypes and rare machines before, a truly remarkable offering has been uncovered -- with an equally remarkable price. A seller going by the name "wozniac" in tribute to the Apple co-founder has put a complete and operational Macintosh 128k prototype created in advance of the actual debut of the Mac in January, 1984. This model even includes a "Twiggy" floppy disk drive, a very unusual addition.
The original plan for the Macintosh was to include the custom 5.25-inch floppy drive, inherited from the Apple Lisa with a capacity of 871K. Due to a high error rate with the Apple-designed drive, plans were changed late in 1983 to switch the Mac to the Sony-made 3.5-inch drive which became one of the Mac's signature features and revolutionized the floppy disc industry.
Few "Twiggy" drive pieces still exist, so a complete one is rare all by itself. This one is accompanied by the rest of the prototype, which the seller says is authentic and original, including the keyboard. The unit was acquired in a complete state and is not pieced together, the description on the ad says. The owner has no original Mac floppies on which to boot the machine, but it appears to be functional and powers up with turned on (the original keyboard, mouse and power cord are included with the prototype).
Photos taken of the unit with the outer casing removed reveal the signatures of the original Mac team, the rare "Mr. Macintosh" icon on some internal parts, and a prototype Macintosh keyboard with a pull-out tray for a reference card. From references on the internals, this model was build sometime in late 1982 or early 1983, more than a year before the first official release.
The unit is priced with a minimum bid of $100,000 and an exorbitant shipping rate of $1,500. It is currently located in southern British Columbia, and the owner says the machine is in good cosmetic shape, though the plastics have yellowed due to exposure to light. Thus far, the item has received no bids.