Apple-1 computer, ‘holy grail’ of vintage tech, to be auctioned off in Southern California


Apple’s new-model, top-of-the-line MacBook Pro laptop computer could set you back nearly $4,000 before taxes.



Morgana Blackwelder of John Moran Auctioneers displays the hand-built Apple-1. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


© Provided by LA Times
Morgana Blackwelder of John Moran Auctioneers displays the hand-built Apple-1. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

But that will seem like a Black Friday steal when a 45-year-old Apple computer goes on sale this week in Monrovia, where it may fetch six figures or more, even without a 16-inch, high-definition screen and the latest microprocessors.

On Tuesday, John Moran Auctioneers will auction off a functioning Apple-1 computer hand-built by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and others in a Los Altos, Calif., garage in 1976. The system was the rock upon which the trillion-dollar Apple empire was built.

In his 2011 biography “Steve Jobs,” Walter Isaacson quotes Wozniak as saying of the Apple-1: “We were participating in the biggest revolution that had ever happened, I thought. I was so happy to be a part of it.”



The hand-built Apple-1 is displayed at John Moran Auctioneers on Saturday. It was hand-built by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and others in a Los Altos, Calif., garage in 1976. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)


© (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
The hand-built Apple-1 is displayed at John Moran Auctioneers on Saturday. It was hand-built by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and others in a Los Altos, Calif., garage in 1976. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The unit is dubbed the “Chaffey College Apple-1” because its first owner was identified as a Chaffey professor. It was unearthed from the Rancho Cucamonga home of a former Chaffey student who had purchased it from the professor for $650 in 1977.

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The student, who wishes to remain anonymous until after the sale, held on to the computer for the next four decades.

The investment may pay off as auction house and Apple-1 experts expect the unit to sell for close to $500,000, if not more. The estimates are not unfounded; an operational unit was sold for $905,000 by Bonhams auction house in 2014.

“This is kind of the holy grail for vintage electronics and computer tech collectors,” said Corey Cohen, an Apple-1 expert. “That really makes it exciting for a lot of people.”

Cohen has made a career of examining, authenticating and refurbishing Apple-1 units for auction houses and others and was called in by John Moran to do the same.

About 200 Apple-1 units were assembled by Wozniak, Jobs and…

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