A fully functioning Apple 1 hit the auction block last week at RR Auction in Boston and fetched $300,000 from an anonymous buyer — a relative steal for a highly coveted piece of computer history that helped launch a trillion-dollar company.
Only 200 of these machines were made in 1976, and of the originals, there are only about 60 floating around in the world now. And an even smaller number, closer to 15, are functional. This particular Apple 1 was restored to its original, operational state by computer historian Corey Cohen.
"Not only is this thing 42-plus years old, but it still works and it works as well as it did back in the 1970s," Cohen explained. "The easiest way to talk about the Apple 1 computer and where it came from is to understand a little bit about Steve Wozniak."
Steve "Woz" Wozniak, an engineer at Hewlett-Packard in the calculator division, was obsessed with the innovations in computers entering the market back then. Using parts from the HP office, he began working on his masterpiece before taking it to the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto to show it to some other members.
Enter the other Steve, his friend and fellow club member Steve Jobs. Jobs loved what Woz had created, and felt he could use his knowledge from working at Atari to contribute some improvements to the assembly and production process. Jobs was sure he could find a way to sell them, and sell them he did.
With the initial funding from Apple-1 sales, Woz went on to design the Apple II — a machine that would be considered one of the greatest computers of all time.
We met with Cohen to see that historic hardware before it went to auction.
This segment originally aired September 25, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.