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Inoperable Apple 1 may fetch $126K at Christie's auction

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 30, 2012
Christie's will auction off an Apple 1 computer from the firm's first batch, and predicted the machine will sell for as much as $126,000 when it hits the block in October.

He also noted that the Copson Apple 1 had been put up for sale on eBay last December at an opening bid price of $179,000, but failed to sell.

"I think it will sell in [Christie's] price range," Willegal said when asked about the auctioneer's projection.

It's clear that the Apple 1 sale earlier this summer, as well as another in November 2010 that went for $213,000 in a Christie's auction, have spurred people to dust off their old Apple 1 systems.

"They've been changing hands a lot recently due to Christie's auction [in 2010] that went over $200,000," said Willegal. "People are saying, 'I've got this thing, I'm not interested in it anymore, I want to move it.' But how many well-heeled people are really out there that want these things? I do know a lot who want these for $20,000."

Willegal also wondered whether the high prices garnered by some Apple 1 computers may prod counterfeiters to product a fake that could pass muster.

"There's a chance in the future that someone would build a reproduction [able to fool experts]," Willegal said. He knows of one hobbyist who is recreating an Apple 1, going so far as to remove identifying numbers from chips, then replacing them with numbers appropriate to an Apple 1. "But he's doing it just for fun, he's just trying to reproduce an old computer," said Willegal.

The money being spent on Apple 1s hasn't trickled down to equally-worth antiques or shaken even older personal computers from attics, Willegal said.

"I've been looking for two versions of the Scelbi (SCientific ELectronic BIological) for a couple of years now, but you never see them for sale."

The Scelbi, which came in both kit and assembled motherboard forms, predated the Apple 1. The first advertisement for the computer, created by the Milford, Conn.-based Scelbi Computer Consulting, ran in 1974 in the still-published QST amateur radio magazine.

Willegal said he knows of just three surviving Scelbi computers.



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