A vintage Apple-1 personal computer could be yours, as it will hit the auction block at Christie's in New York City on Dec. 11. It is the only known surviving Apple-1 computer to have been sold directly by Steve Jobs out of his parents' garage.
And it still works. Recently booted up, the computer ran its original software, Microsoft Basic, and the Apple-1 "Star Trek" game.
Charles Ricketts purchased the Apple-1 almost 40 years ago, on July 27, 1976, directly from Jobs in Los Altos, California, for just $600, according to a canceled check that will be included with the sale. Now, the computer could fetch between $400,000 and $600,000. That price is on a par with similar purchases of the iconic computer: A mint-condition Apple-1 computer sold for a jaw-dropping $905,000 in a Christie's auction in October. Another, signed by co-founder Steve Wozniak, recently sold for $671,000 at an auction in Germany, and a third Apple-1 signed by "Woz" recently fetched $387,750 at a Christie's auction. That one, however, had more wear and tear than the "Ricketts" computer. [See Images of Apple-1 Computer & Other History of Science Items]
After its initial purchase, the Ricketts Apple-1 personal computer came into the hands of Bruce Waldack, an entrepreneur who later fell on hard times and died in 2007. The computer was sold at a sheriff's auction in 2004, and a Virginia collector named Bob Luther acquired it.
At the time, the Apple Computer Company (now called Apple Inc.) was made up of just Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and their office was the Los Altos garage of Jobs' parents. From 1976 onward, the team hand-built 200 Apple-1s, which were priced at $666.66. There are thought to be just 15 working Apple-1 computers in the world.
Also on auction is an archive of proofs, design sketches and diagrams from Ron Wayne, who co-founded Apple Computer Company along with Wozniak and Jobs, but left the venture after 11 days. The archive also contains proofs of the original Apple-1 operating manual, which are emblazoned with what may be the oldest surviving example of the company's logo.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.