AN APPLE-1 PERSONAL COMPUTER
PALO ALTO, 1976
an Apple-1 motherboard: labelled Apple Computer 1 Palo Alto Ca. Copyright 1976 on obverse with four rows A-D, and columns 1-18, white ceramic MOS Technologies 6502 microprocessor, labelled MCS 6502 1576, 8K bytes RAM in 16-pin 4K memory chips, original 3 “Big-Blue” power supply capacitors, firmware in PROMS (A1, A2), low-profile sockets on all integrated circuits, fitted with original Apple cassette interface card lettered with ‘G’ within triangle; mounted in grey and black painted fibreglass casing with keyboard; three cassettes with printed labels apple computer inc. one with labelled in manuscript HAMURABI 4A/00FFR 400.FFFR 10-6-77, another labelled in manuscript NEW MONITOR 800.FFFR Run F3D 10-6, the third with applied printed label A1t001 BASIC LOAD:E000.EFFFR RUN:E000R.
Original manuals: Apple-1 Operation Manual. Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company, (n.d., but 1976). 4° (280 x 215mm.) 12pp., Apple-1 Cassette Interface. Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company, (n.d., but 1976). 2 bifolia to form oblong 8° (140 x 216mm.) [8pp.], PRELIMINARY APPLE BASIC USERS MANUAL. Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company (October 1976). A4 with green paper title (280 x 215mm.) 14pp. Apple-1TM Operation Manual. Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company (1977). A4 with brown paper title (280 x 215mm.) 12pp., Preliminary Apple BASIC User’s Manual. Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company (n.d., but 1977). A4 with brown paper title (280 x 215mm.) 14pp.; a postcard stamped 18 Jul 1977 to Joe Torzewksi, signed ‘Steve Wozniak APPLE COMPUTER’ with a note stating ‘We are getting a floating point BASIC for the APPLE-II but not the APPLE-I’; with a copy of Interface Age vol.1 no.11 October 1976 featuring a double-page advertisement for Apple.
22 x 19 x 6in. (55 x48 x15cm.)
Joe Torzewski, purchase 1977.
Whence acquired by current owner in 2004.
Apple-1 Registry, where the current example is listed with serial number 01-0057.
Discover more about the part this object played in the evolution of the modern PC in our Christie’s Digest feature.
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The Apple-1 computer, born in 1976 of the computing genius of Steve Wozniak and the marketing drive of Steve Jobs, launched Apple Computer, a company that would define an industry and become the largest corporation in the world. What began as the attempt of two techie friends to design and build a microprocessor became the creation of the first personal computer, ultimately changing life around the globe. After introducing their new creation to a small group of like-minded friends at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California, Jobs and Wozniak were able to secure an order for 50 computers from Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop, a small local retail outlet. The Apple-1 systems were sold without a casing, power supply, keyboard or monitor, but offered a pre-assembled motherboard, something that put them far ahead of the competing self-assembly kits of the day.
After landing their order from the Byte Shop, Jobs and Wozniak scrambled to find cash for the necessary parts, selling their own property (a VW van and HP-65 calculator, respectively) to finance the operation. Madly working from the Jobs household, spread through the garage, living room and even a bedroom, the young men, together with their families and friends hand-built the motherboards for the Byte Shop order and an additional small quantity to be sold directly to friends and members of the Homebrew Computer Club. Approximately 200 Apple-1s were built, but only a quarter of those still exist, as carefully documented in the online Apple-1 Registry maintained by Mike Willegal.
Following their success with the Apple-1, Jobs and Wozniak quickly created the much more advanced Apple-II, first sold on June 10, 1977 (and in production, with improvements, until 1993). They officially discontinued the Apple-1 by October 1977, offering discounts and trade-ins to encourage all Apple-1 owners to return their machines, which were destroyed. Of those Apple-1s that survived fewer and fewer examples remain in private hands. Fifteen extant examples are in public collections, including the Smithsonian Museum of Art, Washington D.C. and other museums of technology or science worldwide. The current example was last working in 2005, but hasn't been turned on in the last 10 years.
THIS EXAMPLE COMES WITH THE EXTREMELY RARE FIRST MANUAL ISSUED BY THE APPLE COMPUTER COMPANY. Although not credited in the text, Ronald Wayne is well-known to be its author (and he does receive printed credit for drawing the enclosed schematics). The elder-statesmen of the Jobs-Wozniak-Wayne trio, Wayne drew the first Apple logo that appears on the cover of this pamphlet, drafted their partnership agreement, and wrote the present manual. His original logo symbolically connected the nascent Apple Computer Company to important scientific precedent: Sir Isaac Newton sits beneath an apple tree writing on several loose sheets, the glowing apple of inspiration above him, as if about to fall and spring forth innovation. Wayne also incorporated into his design Wordsworth's homage to Newton from The Prelude: "A Mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone." The backward-looking style of the logo, blending the Enlightenment's ideal of science and the Romantic's ideal of expression, could not conceal the overwhelmingly modern import of the simple text it announced.
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