Apple I For Sale

September 15th, 2008 by Benj Edwards

Apple 1 For Sale- Keyboard Apple 1 For Sale - PC Board

[ Update: 02/11/2010 – Rick Conte donated this Apple I to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009 ]

It’s not every day that an original Apple I goes up for sale. In fact, it’s not every year that an Apple I goes up for sale. In case you didn’t know, the Apple I is an exceedingly rare machine.

Apple Computer LogoHow rare? Well, various sources on the net say that about 200 units of Apple’s first computer were produced, and perhaps 30-50 survive to this day. To find out the truth behind these numbers, I checked with the designer of the Apple I himself, Steve Wozniak. But first, it’s time for a little history.

Apple co-founders Wozniak and Steve Jobs originally sold the Apple I for $666.66 (US) in 1976. With the help of friends, the duo built each and every Apple I by hand, although admittedly, there’s wasn’t much to the primitive machine. It shipped without an enclosure, keyboard, power supply, or display; the buyer was expected to furnish those parts. (Many people built them into briefcases, like the one seen here.)

“We did 2 production runs of 100 each,” recalls Woz. “Out of those 200, perhaps 150 were sold. But the others may be in people’s hands, employees from when we switched to the Apple ][.”

As far as how many Apple Is survive to this day, I’d personally guess that most of them are still around somewhere: if you were prescient enough to buy an Apple I in 1976, you’re probably not the kind of person who would throw it away. But unless everyone who owns an Apple I stands up and raises their hand, we’ll never be sure — and how many languish forgotten in dank basements or dusty attics across the country?

Apple 1 For Sale - Case

That brings us to the present. Last week, a fellow named Rick Conte contacted me with news that he has an Apple I for sale. Since it’s such an important and rare machine, I offered to put it up on VC&G to see if anyone out there is interested.

You might be wondering why I don’t buy it myself. Well, I’ll tell you right now that he’s expecting a price in excess of $15,000 US — and it’s no surprise, as Apple I’s have a history of selling for up to $50,000 over the past decade. I don’t think I’ve ever even owned $15,000 at one time, so that decidedly rules me out.

The three pictures you see above are actual photos of Rick’s Apple I, which is built into a briefcase. For more details, see the mini-interview with Rick below.

Q&A With Rick Conte, Owner of the Apple I

VC&G: Did you build the Apple I into that case yourself? If not, who did?

Rick Conte: My A1 came fully assembled in the case with an integrated keyboard and power supply as well as I/O connectors for the video monitor and cassette tape interface.

VC&G: Where did you buy it?

RC: I bought it mail-order from what I thought was the Byte Shop, but further research indicates it might have been from Stan Veit in New York City. I do not have the bill of sale for it and my memory of this 30 year old event is somewhat hazy since I also bought an Apple II, a Commodore Pet, and a TRS-80 subsequently.

I checked my bound issues of Byte Magazine I have for 1977 to see if the ad I responded to was in there, but it wasn’t. So, it may have been in another magazine such as Creative Computing.

VC&G: How much did you pay for it?

RC: I think I paid $995.00 for it, but without a bill of sale this is just an educated guess.

VC&G: What did you use the Apple I for?

RC: I have Apple 1 Basic on a cassette tape that goes with the computer when I sell it. I spent weekends locked up in my room learning BASIC and programming in it. I was single back then and had the time for this.

VC&G: Did you play any games on it?

RC: I had a Breakout-type game I played on it.

VC&G: How long did you use it?

RC: I only used it for a few months until those other three off-the-shelf computers mentioned above came out. I bought all three of them within a six month period back in the 1977-1978 time frame.

VC&G: Does it still work?

RC: I haven’t plugged this A1 in for over 20 years, and there is a loose wire that needs to be attached to the motherboard for the cassette tape interface connector. But it might work. Except for the composite monitor, everything is there, including the keyboard and power supply.

VC&G: Why are you selling it?

RC: I am looking forward to retiring a few bills from the proceeds of this sale. I appreciate your efforts on publicizing this opportunity.

If you’re interested in buying this Apple I, please email Rick Conte and make him an offer. Make sure you take out the “REMOVE” in his email address — it’s only there to thwart email-collecting SPAM bots.

If you end up buying this Apple I, please know that I will not be involved in the transaction and cannot personally guarantee the accuracy of anything either party says — that is purely between you and the seller. I know from correspondence, however, that Rick seems to be an honest guy with a long history as a computer hobbyist.

That’s all for now. I’ll keep you updated as to what happens to this amazing vintage machine. In the mean time, if anyone out there has any personal stories they’d like to share about the Apple I, I’d love to hear from you. Either leave a comment below or send me an email.

[ Update: 02/11/2010 – Rick Conte donated this Apple I to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009 ]

12 Responses to “Apple I For Sale”

  1. Kitsunexus Says:

    $15,000…for that? I’m sorry, it’s not worth it, not even for historical value’s sake.

    “I was single back then and had the time for this.”

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Maybe not for you, but for somebody out there, it could be what they’ve always wanted.

  3. Jason L Says:

    Conventional wisdom says that an item is worth whatever someone is willing to pay. We each value things differently from one another.

  4. arlandi Says:

    wow… 15 grand. good luck to Rick. i hope the next owner is also an old computer buff. i know i’ll buy one if i have that kind of money to spend…

  5. Geoff V. Says:

    My question to Rick Conte is this:
    What were you doing in the late 70’s that let you purchase the equivalent of a $4000 computer and then only use it for a few weekends?

    I make a decent amount, and spend a good portion on computers. But I couldn’t see spending that amount of money and only use it for a couple months; it just seems a little far fetched.

  6. Noel Says:

    It would be so cool to pair up a nice LCD for the top lid@! Don’t do it though!

    For $15,000, this machine should sell. More if it could be verified working and even more if the bill of sale was found. It is a piece of history indeed.

  7. Denny Says:

    Did the Apple I ever sell? just curious?

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    Hey Denny. Great question! I just asked Rick, and he said it hasn’t sold yet.

  9. Mark Says:

    hi there, im looking for something just as old.

    a 1978 apple brass cube paperweight.

    if anyone has one or know someone who does, please get in contact with me.

  10. Steve Smith Says:

    Did this item ever sell? I might be interested in making an offer, however, Ricks email address comes back undeliverable. Thanks!


  11. Benj Edwards Says:

    Steve, Rick donated this Apple I to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009.

  12. cathy wood Says:

    I have one of the prototype macintosh computers. My husband recieved this in 1984 while working on an advisory committee to Apple. He was then Chief Information Officer of Emory University.

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