This Apple-1 Computer Cost $666 in 1976. Now It Could Sell for $650,000

This Apple-1 will come with a monitor and keyboard, as well as original user manuals.
This Apple-1 will come with a monitor and keyboard, as well as original user manuals. (Image credit: Christie's)

Interested in spending your life savings on a nearly useless desktop computer with 4KB of memory and a 1 MHz processor? You're in luck: Christie's, a London auction house, said it will auction off a rare Apple-1 computer between May 16 and May 24.

The Apple-1, the first device Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak ever sold, came out in 1976. About 200 units were built, according to Christie's, but only 80 still exist. At the time of their release, these computers sold for $666.66. But Christie's estimates this machine, which is still in working order, will sell for between $400,000 and $650,000.

Back in 1976, desktop computers weren't common, and most of their modern uses didn't exist. But even then, the Apple-1 had some competitors, such as the Altair 8800. To the extent the Apple-1 stood out from the pack, it was for the relative simplicity of its design and assembly. Though it sold without a screen, keyboard, power supply or even a casing, its motherboard was preassembled. That made the Apple-1 a relatively simple project compared with some of the other kits available at the time, where the motherboard itself required significant assembly. [19 Greatest Modern Thinkers]

If you want to see what it's like to use an Apple-1 without dropping 600K for the pleasure, you can use a free emulator to simulate the experience in your browser.

Originally published on Live Science.

Rafi Letzter
Staff Writer
Rafi joined Live Science in 2017. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of journalism. You can find his past science reporting at Inverse, Business Insider and Popular Science, and his past photojournalism on the Flash90 wire service and in the pages of The Courier Post of southern New Jersey.