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Lot #6001
Apple-1 Computer

Fully functional Apple-1 with a rare Synertek C6502 CPU

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Estimate: $300000+
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Fully functional Apple-1 with a rare Synertek C6502 CPU

Exceptional, fully functional Apple-1 computer (also commonly known as the Apple I, or Apple Computer 1), complete with all components and accessories required for operation. This Apple-1 computer was acquired by the SoftWarehouse, a computer store/franchise in Western Michigan, in the 1980s as part of a trade for a newer IBM machine. It was subsequently displayed in the store in a custom-made museum style case, before being placed into storage. This Apple-1 was recently featured on the Pawn Stars episode 'Ship Happens' (Season 17, Episode 10).

On the left side, the board is marked: “Apple Computer 1, Palo Alto, Ca. Copyright 1976.” This appears to be one of the last populated NTI Apple-1 boards, as indicated by the use of all yellow 22mf electrolytic capacitors and the rare white 1976 ceramic Synertek C6502 CPU from the 43rd week of 1976. This is one of two known surviving NTI Apple-1 which used this processor; most known Apple-1 used MOS 6502 microprocessors. The Synertek C6502 is considered to be the rarest example of a licensed 6502 CPU from 1976.

This Apple-1 board is also configured with 8K of Mostek RAM installed. The reverse side of the board has no modifications or circuit traces that have been cut or repaired. The prototype area is clean and un-used. The green coat on the reverse is in very good condition without the typical peeling from the original wave-soldering manufacturing process; it also retains the intact lot "37" sticker seen on some Apple-1 NTI units. This is one of the best NTI examples known to date.

The set includes:
• original Apple-1 board
• original Apple Cassette Interface (ACI)
• a period terminal keyboard kit, wired for the Apple-1
• a period video monitor in wooden case
• a period power supply
• a period TV video modulator
• period Xerox copies of the Apple-1 Operation Manual and ACI Manual
• display case commissioned by the SoftWarehouse

This Apple-1 computer was restored to its original, operational state in June 2019 by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, and a video of it running and functioning is available upon request. A comprehensive, technical condition report prepared by Cohen is available to qualified bidders; he evaluates the current condition of the unit as 8.0/10. The most remarkable aspect of this Apple-1 computer is that it is documented to be fully operational: the system was operated without fault for approximately eight hours in a comprehensive test. This Apple-1 was exhibited at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, in 2019 for the Vintage Computer Festival West, and is documented on the Apple-1 Registry.

The Apple-1 was originally conceived by Steve Jobs and Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak as a bare circuit board to be sold as a kit and completed by electronics hobbyists, their initial market being Palo Alto’s Homebrew Computer Club. Seeking a larger audience, Jobs approached Paul Terrell, owner of The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, one of the first personal computer stores in the world. Aiming to elevate the computer beyond the realm of the hobbyist, Terrell agreed to purchase 50 Apple-1 computers, but only if they were fully assembled. The Apple-1 thus became one of the first ‘personal’ computers which did not require soldering by the end user. All together, over a span of about ten months, Jobs and Wozniak produced about 200 Apple-1 computers and sold 175 of them.

A masterpiece of innovation, the standard Apple-1 included 4K of inexpensive dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which could be expanded to 8K on board or 64K externally; this Apple-1 has been wired to use 8K of onboard Mostek DRAM. Most computers in the Apple-1’s price range used more expensive static memory (SRAM), which limited them to 1K of memory for a similar cost. We still use DRAM technology today in computers, mobile phones, and electronics.

Another central characteristic of the Apple-1 is its built-in video terminal, which allows output to a television screen or video monitor. This was a dramatic advance from the traditional computer input/output mechanism of the day, the ASR-33 teletype, which printed a computer’s output onto a spool of paper. With this video port, the Apple-1 allowed a user to view commands on a screen in real time—something taken for granted in today’s computing world. Included with this Apple-1 is a period open frame ‘security’ monitor in a homemade wooden case, and a period hobbyist-assembled terminal keyboard 'kit' wired for this Apple-1. Interestingly, the keyboard has no 'return/enter' key; instead, this functionality is accessed by pressing the <shift> and <]> keys concurrently.

This Apple-1 additionally includes an original Apple-1 Cassette Interface (ACI), also introduced in 1976, which provides the ability to save memory contents onto a standard audio tape, and later load the contents back into the computer’s memory. Revolutionary for the time, Steve Wozniak designed the ACI to use only 6 integrated circuits, compared to other solutions which used 50 to 100 integrated circuits. This allowed Apple to sell their solution for less than their competitors; the Apple ACI also operated at four times the speed of its contemporary competitors.

The early success of the Apple-1 in 1976 paved the way for the introduction of the Apple II in the spring of 1977. In Apple’s 1980 IPO prospectus, the company described its progress: ‘In April 1977 the Company introduced the Apple II computer mainframe which was similar to the Apple I but incorporated additional circuitry and a keyboard, and was packaged in a plastic housing.’ In other words, the Apple II built upon the Apple-1 to become an even more capable, more consumer-ready machine. Between 1977 and 1980, on the sales of the Apple II and its peripherals, accessories, and software, Apple Computer’s yearly revenue grew from $774,000 to $118 million, making it one of the great growth stories of Silicon Valley. The Apple-1 is not only a marvel of early computing ingenuity, but the product that launched what is today one of the most valuable and successful companies in the world.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Steve Jobs
  • Dates: #579 - Ended March 12, 2020