Steve Jobs-Built Apple-1 Computer Could Fetch $500,000 at Auction

According to The Los Angeles Times, a 45-year-old, original Apple-1 computer will be auctioned off on Tuesday in Monrovia, California, by John Moran Auctioneers on behalf of its owner, who wishes to remain anonymous suntil after the sale.

According to Apple-1 experts, the unit might fetch close to a whopping $500,000 USD. That $1,999 2021 MacBook Pro ain’t looking too bad now, is it? 

That’s still only around half of the $905,000 the Henry Ford Museum paid for theirs back in 2014, though.

The unit, dubbed the ‘Chaffey College Apple-1’ since its first owner was identified as a Chaffey professor, has been restored, is fully operational, and comes in a koa wood enclosure with all of its accessories and excellent provenance. The current owner was a student at Chaffey College, and bought the computer from the professor for $650 in 1977.

“This is kind of the holy grail for vintage electronics and computer tech collectors,” said Corey Cohen, a renowned Apple-1 expert who evaluated and restored another Apple-1 unit that was auctioned off last year.

“That really makes it exciting for a lot of people,” he added. Cohen himself owns an Apple-1 unit, but doesn’t plan on selling it in his lifetime.

This particular Apple-1 computer was hand-built by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and others in a Los Altos, CA, garage back in 1976. This one computer is the seed that the lineage of today’s trillion-dollar Apple traces back to.

Wozniak, Jobs, and co. assembled around 200 Apple-1 units by hand, 175 of which were sold. According to Cohen, only about 60 Apple-1 computers are known to exist today, with just about 20 (including the Chaffey College Apple-1) still capable of functioning.

Cohen said this unit was not in “bad condition” when he first examined it, but the keyboard had to be completely rebuilt. Today, koa wood is a high-priced material, and there are only a handful of Apple-1 units with intact koa wood cases, said the expert.

According to Cohen, the Chaffey College Apple-1 is unique, and possibly more valuable, thanks to its koa wood case, its accessories, its provenance, and the fact that it is fully-functioning.

“It has all the pieces and it has some really good provenance,” he noted. “We can pretty much track it back to the original professor who owned it.”

Absentee bidding for the Chaffey College Apple-1 opened last week at $200,000. The current bid, as of Friday, November 5, stands $250,000 tall.