Apple computer built by Wozniak and Jobs fetches $500,000 at Southern California auction

Monrovia, CA - November 06: Original Apple-1 "NTI" motherboard and an Apple Cassette Adapter (ACI) in an original ByteShop Apple-1 koa wood case with Datanetics Keyboard Rev D [keyboard dated: Sept 21 1976] partnered with a 1986 Panasonic video monitor [model no. TR-930U; serial no. KA6320206; dated: MAY 1986]. Hand-built Apple-1 displayed for auction at John Moran Auctioneers on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 in Monrovia, CA. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

An Apple-1 computer, hand-built by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in the 1970s, sold for $500,000 at auction in Monrovia. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

A piece of computer history and coveted collector’s item with ties to Southern California fetched six figures at auction this week.

An Apple-1 computer, hand-built by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in the 1970s, sold for $500,000 at auction Tuesday in Monrovia.

The final bid for the unit was $400,000, with the buyer — who wishes to remain anonymous — paying an additional $100,000 premium, or commission, to John Moran Auctioneers.

The Southern California-based auction house estimated that the unit, dubbed the “Chaffey College Apple-1” after its original owner was identified as a Chaffey professor, would sell for between $400,000 to $600,000.

In 2014, Bonhams auction house sold an Apple-1 for more than $900,000.

The seller, also unidentified as of Monday and now $400,000 richer, had purchased the Apple-1 from a Chaffey College professor for around $650 in 1977.

The professor originally purchased the unit from the Bay Area computer store the Byte Shop, which had commissioned Jobs and Wozniak to build 50 Apple-1s.

The nascent Apple company built around 200 units, selling 175 of them.

Around 60 Apple-1s still exist. Corey Cohen, an Apple-1 expert, called the item the “holy grail” of vintage tech.

Bidding for the Chaffey unit started at $200,000, with a handful of bidders — some from outside the United States — driving the price up to $350,000, said Nathan Martinez, advertising and marketing director at John Moran.

A showdown between two bidders drove the price up to $400,000.

While the winner remains unidentified, Martinez said Wednesday that it “appears [the Apple-1] will leave the country.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.