A fully assembled Apple I computer, with a homemade wooden computer case.
|Release date||April 11, 1976|
|Discontinued||September 30, 1977|
|CPU||MOS 6502 @ 1 MHz|
|Memory||4 KB standard
expandable to 8 KB or 48 KB using expansion cards
|Graphics||40×24 characters, hardware-implemented scrolling|
The original Apple Computer, also known retroactively as the Apple I, or Apple-1, is a personal computer released by the Apple Computer Company (now Apple Inc.) in 1976. They were designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak. Wozniak's friend Steve Jobs had the idea of selling the computer. The Apple I was Apple's first product, and to finance its creation, Jobs sold his only means of transportation, a VW Microbus, and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500. It was demonstrated in July 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California.
On March 5, 1975 Steve Wozniak attended the first meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in Gordon French's garage. He was so inspired by that meeting that he immediately set to work on what would become the Apple I computer. Wozniak calculated that laying out his design would cost $1,000 and parts would cost another $200 per computer; he hoped to recoup his costs if 50 people bought his design for $40 each. His friend Steve Jobs obtained an order from a local computer store for 100 computers at $500 each. To fulfill the $50,000 order, they obtained $20,000 in parts at 30 days net and delivered the finished product in 10 days.
The Apple I went on sale in July 1976 at a price of US$666.66, because Wozniak "liked repeating digits" and because of a one-third markup on the $500 wholesale price. About 200 units were produced and all but 25 were sold during nine or ten months. Unlike other hobbyist computers of its day, which were sold as kits, the Apple I was a fully assembled circuit board containing about 60+ chips. However, to make a working computer, users still had to add a case, power supply transformers, power switch, ASCII keyboard, and composite video display. An optional board providing a cassette interface for storage was later released at the cost of $72.
The Apple I's built-in computer terminal circuitry was distinctive. All one needed was a keyboard and an inexpensive television set. Competing machines such as the Altair 8800 generally were programmed with front-mounted toggle switches and used indicator lights (red LEDs, most commonly) for output, and had to be extended with separate hardware to allow connection to a computer terminal or a teletypewriter machine. This made the Apple I an innovative machine for its day. In April 1977 the price was dropped to $475. It continued to be sold through August 1977, despite the introduction of the Apple II in April 1977, which began shipping in June of that year. Apple dropped the Apple I from its price list by October 1977, officially discontinuing it. As Wozniak was the only person who could answer most customer support questions about the computer, the company offered Apple I owners discounts and trade-ins for Apple IIs to persuade them to return their computers These recovered boards were then destroyed by Apple, contributing to their rarity today.
As of 2013, at least 61 Apple I computers are documented to exist (plus an indefinite number of possible unreported cases). Only six have been verified to be in working condition.
- An Apple I reportedly sold for $50,000 USD at auction in 1999.
- In 2008, the website "Vintage Computing and Gaming" reported that Apple I owner Rick Conte was looking to sell his unit and was "expecting a price in excess of $15,000 US." The site later reported Conte had donated the unit to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009.
- A unit was sold in September 2009 for $17,480 on eBay.
- A unit belonging to early Apple Computer engineers Dick and Cliff Huston was sold on March 23, 2010 for $42,766 on eBay.
- In November 2010, an Apple I sold for £133,250 ($210,000) at Christie's auction house in London. The high price was likely due to the rare documents and packaging offered in the sale in addition to the computer, including the original packaging (with the return label showing Steve Jobs' parents' address, the original Apple Computer Inc 'headquarters' being their garage), a personally typed and signed letter from Jobs (answering technical questions about the computer), and the original invoice showing 'Steven' as the salesman. The computer was brought to Polytechnic University of Turin where it was fixed and used to run the BASIC programming language.
- On June 15, 2012, a working Apple I was sold at auction by Sotheby's for a record $374,500, more than double the expected price.
- In October 2012, a non-working Apple I from the estate of former Apple Computer employee Joe Copson was put up for auction by Christie's, but found no bidder who was willing to pay the starting price of US$80,000 (£50,000). Copson's board had previously been listed on eBay in December 2011, with a starting bid of $170,000 and failed to sell.
- On November 24, 2012, a working Apple I was sold at auction by Auction Team Breker for €400,000 ($671,000 USD)
- On May 25, 2013, a functioning 1976 model was sold for a record €516,000 (US$668,000) in Cologne. Auction Team Breker said "an unnamed Asian client" bought the Apple I. This particular unit has Wozniak's signature. An old business transaction letter from Jobs also was included, as well as the original owner's manual.
- On June 24, 2013, an Apple I was listed by Christie's as part of a special on-line only auction lot called, "First Bytes: Iconic Technology From the Twentieth Century". Bidding ran through July 9, 2013. The unit sold for $390,000.
According to Steve Jobs, Apple did not assign serial numbers to the Apple I. Several boards have been found with numbered stickers affixed to them which appear to be inspection stickers from the PCB manufacturer/assembler. A batch of boards is known to have numbers hand-written in black permanent marker on the back; these usually appear as "01-00##" and anecdotal evidence suggests they are inventory control numbers added by The Byte Shop to the batch Apple sold them. These Byte Shop numbers have often mistakenly been described as serial numbers by auction houses and in related press coverage.
Clones and replicas
Several Apple I clones and replicas have been released in recent years. These are all created by hobbyists and marketed to the hobbyist/collector community. Availability is usually limited to small runs in response to demand.
- Replica 1: Created by Vince Briel. A software-compatible clone, produced using modern components, released in 2003 at a price of around $200.
- A-One: Created by Frank Achatz, also using modern components.
- Obtronix Apple I reproduction: Created by Steve Gabaly, using original components or equivalents thereof. Sold through eBay.
- Mimeo 1: Created by Mike Willegal. A hardware kit designed to replicate a real Apple I as accurately possible. Buyers are expected to assemble the kits themselves.
- Newton 1: Created by Michael Ng. A hardware kit similar to the Mimeo 1, and sold through eBay.
- MESS, an emulation system able to emulate the Apple I.
- OpenEmulator, an accurate emulator of the Apple I, the ACI (Apple Cassette Interface) and CFFA1 expansion card.
- Pom1, an open source Apple I emulator for Microsoft Windows, Arch Linux and Android devices.
- Apple 1 Emulator, an emulator for the SAM Coupé home computer.
- CocoaPom, a Java-based emulator with a Cocoa front end for Macintosh.
- Sim6502, an Apple I emulator for Macintosh.
- "Co-founder tells his side of Apple story". Reuters. September 27, 2006.
- NPR : A Chat with Computing Pioneer Steve Wozniak
- Kelley: Jobs' vision changed the way we work, play
- Steve Jobs: Steve Wozniak Remembers
- Freiberger, Paul; Swaine, Michael (2000). Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. pp. 265–267. ISBN 0-07-135892-7. "At a Homebrew meeting in July 1976, Woz gave a demonstration of the Apple 1. Paul Terrell, one of the industries earliest retailers, was in attendance."
- Wozniak, Steve (2006). iWoz. W.W. Norton & Company. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-393-33043-4. "After my first meeting, I started designing the computer that would later be known as the Apple I. It was that inspiring."
- Williams, Gregg; Moore, Rob (1984-12). "The Apple Story / Part 1: Early History". BYTE (interview). pp. A67. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
- "Video: Wozniak: $666.66 seemed like a good idea". CNET News. November 7, 2005. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
- Wozniak, Steven: "iWoz", page 180. W. W. Norton, 2006. ISBN 978-0-393-06143-7
- April 1977 Price List | Applefritter
- Bill of Sale | Applefritter
- October 1977 Price List | Applefritter
- "The Apple II, cont.". Apple II History. Retrieved February 27, 2011.
- "The Huston brothers' Apple-1 Back Story". Retrieved June 25, 2013.
- Ong, Josh (November 11, 2010). "Auction of Apple's first computer expected to top $160k". Apple Insider. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- "Apple I For Sale". Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- "The Apple 1 Registry". Apple I Mimeo Project. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- Calande, John (March 24, 2010). "Another very nice Apple-1 sold on ebay yesterday". Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- BBC News (November 23, 2010). "First Apple computer fetches £130,000 at auction". BBC News. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- "Christie's Sale 7882 / Lot 65". Christie's. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- Heater, Brian. "$211,000 Apple-1 up and running, wants to know what this 'cloud' thing is all about". engadget. engadget.com. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- Austin, Scott (June 15, 2012). "Original Apple 1 Computer Sells for $374,500 in Auction". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 16, 2012.
- "Rare apple 1 computer no sale at christies auction". ABC News. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- "the-saleroom.com". ATG Media. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
- "Vintage Apple computer auctioned off for $668,000". Yahoo News. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
- "First Apple Computer Sells for $390,000 in Christie’s Technology Auction". International Business Times. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
- "The Apple 1 Registry". Retrieved June 26, 2013.
- replica I – the apple I(c) clone, retrieved August 15, 2009
- replica I at official Briel computers web site, retrieved August 15, 2008
- Gagne, Ken Image gallery: Building an Apple-1 replica from scratch, Computerworld, 2009-08-14, story with pictures for assembling a Briel replica I from a kit, retrieved August 15, 2009
- Owad, Tom Apple I Replica Creation, retrieved August 15, 2009
- Achatz Electronics, retrieved July 29, 2013, archived May 13, 2012
- Vectronics Apple World: Obtronix Apple I Reproduction, retrieved July 8, 2013
- Mimeo 1 kit, retrieved July 8, 2013
- Apple 1 Replica (Newton 1) Running Test Program, retrieved July 8, 2013
- Newton 1 replica photos by creator Michael Ng, retrieved July 8, 2013
- Pom1 Apple 1 Emulator, retrieved July 17, 2013
- Apple 1 Emulator - SAM Coupé, retrieved July 17, 2013
- CocoaPom Apple 1 Emulator, retrieved July 17, 2013
- Sim6502 Apple I emulator retrieved July 17, 2013
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Apple I.|
- Apple I Owners Club
- Apple I Operational Manual
- Apple I project on www.sbprojects.com
- Apple 1 Computer Registry
- Macintosh Prehistory: The Apple I
- LCF Historical Collection – Apple 1 Video
- John Calande III blog – Building the Apple I clone
- Apple 1 Computer sold at auction for $671,000
April 11, 1976