Most people wouldn’t think too much of a computer crammed into a briefcase — but if it’s one of the few remaining examples of the first computer ever built by Apple? That’s a whole different story.
An original Apple I from 1976 — as hand-built by Steve Wozniak — just sold for £371,260 (or roughly $ 471,000) in a Christie’s Auction. It comes set inside a leather briefcase, complete with a built-in keyboard.
So, why the briefcase? Because the Apple I didn’t come with a case of its own. $ 666 got you a board ready to hook right up to a TV and keyboard, but figuring out an enclosure was up to the buyer. At some point along the road, someone thought to mount this board in a briefcase. Hey, it’s portable!
It’s estimated that around 200 Apple I computers were made, the majority of which are believed to have been destroyed. The enthusiast-run Apple-1 Registry knows of 68-or-so still in existence, of which the one being auctioned is listed as number 10.
As detailed by the Registry, this specific Apple I was owned by Rick Conte, who bought it to learn how to program BASIC. He donated it to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009, after which it was sold to a series of private owners.
Also included in the auction were a ton of great extras and pieces of history — the original manuals, a handful of magazines with articles about the Apple I, an assortment of compatible hardware like the SWTPC PR-40 dot matrix printer, rare photocopies of some of the original Apple founding paperwork, and more.