Life Tech Rare, original Apple-1 computer sells for $500,000
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Rare, original Apple-1 computer sells for $500,000

Apple-1 computer sold
One of the last remaining original Apple-1 computers has been sold in the US. Photo: John Moran Auctioneers
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A uniquely rare Apple computer hand-built by company founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak has sold for $US400,000 ($542,000)

The original Apple computer, more commonly referred to as the Apple-1, is one of the rarest tech-artefacts made publicly available and is one of the first 200 products ever built by the company 45 years ago.

The computer auctioned by John Moran Auctioneers in the US on Wednesday morning (Australian time) is known as the “Chaffey College” Apple-1 personal computer after its original owner, a professor at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

The Chaffey College computer is a holy grail for vintage computer collectors, complete with a working motherboard, screen, cables and keyboard – even copies of the original programming manual and software cassette tapes.

But the rarest aspect of all may be the the computer’s case – with only six ever built like it.

Apple-1 computer
Auctioneers set up the Chaffey College Apple-1 computer for display. Photo: Getty

“In the 1970s, koa wood was abundant and easily accessible, especially on the west coast because it was native to Hawaii, but due to cattle grazing and extensive logging, the koa tree is now considered much rarer and more expensive,” John Moran Auctioneers said.

“There are only six known examples of the koa wood case in existence, and this unit is one of them.”

Only 20 functional Apple-1 computers are known to remain, according to an unofficial registry.

Apple-1 computers were developed for metal cases and were sold as a motherboard, with cases, keyboards and monitors sold separately.

The Chaffey College professor sold the computer to a student in 1977 for $650. The unnamed student held onto the computer until Tuesday.

Apple-1’s original asking price in 1976 was $666.66

The auction house said the starting price for 2021 bids were at $US200,000 ($271,000). The computer was expected to sell for more than $US500,000 ($678,000) having undergone a full restoration and extensive authentication.

In 2014, a similar unit was sold for more than $US900,000 ($1.22 million)