How Much Is a Piece of Apple’s History Worth?

A rare piece of technological history will go on sale later this month in the form of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) original personal computer.  German technical auction team Breker will put one of the few operational Apple-1 computers in existence on the auction block, where it is expected to fetch somewhere in the range of $261,000 to $392,000.

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The Apple-1 debuted in 1976 and was considered a groundbreaking step forward since it included a fully assembled circuit board. It originally retailed for the odd price of $666.66, although users could upgrade the memory with a $72 cassette storage add-on.

In the days of do-it-yourself computer assembly, this stripped-down Apple machine didn’t include a power supply, keyboard, monitor, or even a casing. Only 200 of these rare units were ever produced and approximately 50 are estimated to be in existence today.

Besides the obvious historical value of such a rare technological artifact, there are charming personal touches from two of Apple’s original co-founders. The computer was assembled by Steve Wozniak in Steve Jobs’ family garage. A letter to the original owner from Steve Jobs offers to upgrade the Apple-1 to the Apple 4K II for a $400 fee. Under the motherboard is a “Woz” mark from Steve Wozniak.

This isn’t the first piece of Apple’s vaunted computer history to pull in major dollar amounts. British auction house Sotheby’s has previously sold an Apple-1 for $374,500 and Breker sold an Apple-1 for a record-setting $640,000 last year. Maybe it’s not always the best policy to constantly upgrade your computer products.

Somewhere Steve Jobs is smiling.

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