Get out your checkbooks, Silicon Valley geeks and Apple fan people! You’ve bought an opportunity to view — and even purchase — one of many very first Apple computer systems, hand-soldered by legendary Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
A number one skilled and the public sale home say the gadget — a damaged circuit board apparently crammed in a drawer for years — is a uncommon Wozniak-built laptop that Steve Jobs, Apple’s different co-founder, used to woo a pioneering retailer at a Mountain View laptop store in a seminal tech-industry second in 1976. However the declare touched off a energetic debate amongst veterans of the period contacted by the Bay Space Information Group, with the retailer and even Woz himself saying they’re under no circumstances certain it’s that laptop.
“My hunch,” Wozniak stated in an e mail Thursday after being despatched photographs of the gadget, “is that it’s one of many first however not that we hand-soldered.”
In any case, all concerned agree — it’s an early model of Apple’s first retail residence laptop and intensely priceless.
The Apple-1 will likely be displayed this weekend on the Laptop Historical past Museum in Mountain View. As soon as thought-about “misplaced,” the gadget has a circuit board with solders indicating work by Wozniak and represents “the holy grail of Steve Jobs and Apple memorabilia,” in keeping with the public sale home anticipating to promote it for a minimum of $500,000. As of Friday morning, bidding stood at $407,029, with the public sale dwell till Aug. 18.
Whereas revolutionary on the time, the gadget had 256 bytes of reminiscence. Immediately, a contemporary Mac laptop has 4 to eight million instances greater than that.
Mike Graff, spokesman for Boston-based RR Public sale, stated Jobs gave the Apple-1 to its present proprietor, who needs to stay nameless, round 1990. The gadget had languished for years in a drawer “with issues on prime of it and beneath it” within the famed “Apple Storage” the place Jobs and Wozniak did their early work in Jobs’ childhood residence in Los Altos, stated Corey Cohen, a board member of the Classic Laptop Federation and a distinguished Apple-1 skilled.
Cohen and the public sale home say Jobs used this prototype to reveal the Apple-1 to Paul Terrell, proprietor of the Byte Store in Mountain View, one of many world’s first private laptop shops.
Nonetheless, Terrell instructed the Bay Space Information Group this week that he isn’t satisfied it’s the identical gadget.
Now 78, Terrell remembers watching Jobs and Wozniak — “children with lengthy hair and sandals attempting to start out an organization” — touting their new laptop in 1976 at a month-to-month assembly of the now-legendary Homebrew Laptop Membership. Because the proprietor of 13 Byte Store laptop shops, Terrell recurrently attended the gatherings, he stated.
Terrell remembers Wozniak telling membership members within the auditorium of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Heart in Menlo Park that in the event that they needed to see the gadget in motion, they need to cease by the exit on the way in which out for an indication.
“After I went exterior the door and noticed what was occurring there I stated, ‘Oh my God — I’d like to have that in my Byte Store to promote,’” Terrell stated.
He invited Jobs to return by his store in Mountain View the following day. “I instructed him I needed a completely assembled and examined laptop that I might promote to folks like programmers and so forth,” Terrell stated. “And I might give him $500 every.”
Right here’s the place issues get murky: Terrell believes the Apple-1 up for public sale is a manufacturing mannequin from “the primary supply” of fifty computer systems he obtained to promote and never the prototype Wozniak and Jobs dropped at the membership assembly.
Achim Baqué, of Germany, curator of the “Apple-1 Registry” that tracks the computer systems, shares Terrell’s perception that the pc up for public sale will not be the unit from the Homebrew assembly. He additionally doesn’t suppose it’s one despatched to Terrell’s store for retail sale. As a substitute, Baqué stated he thinks it was the factory-made “one and solely manufacturing prototype” representing a ultimate design earlier than mass manufacturing, not hand constructed by Wozniak however that includes some modifications he made by hand.
Cohen begs to vary. To start out, the gadget up for public sale is hand-soldered, bearing tell-tale indicators of Wozniak’s work, Cohen stated.
“The wires run in a really tight manner, and the form of the solder is exclusive to how the soldering method is completed,” Cohen stated. Wozniak is “well-known for doing this. He places the soldering iron in a single hand, places the wire within the different hand, and he places the lead solder in his mouth. Only a few folks do that. They use tape to carry issues in place. As a result of he’s doing it together with his mouth, there’s rather less precision. It’s actually an up-and-down movement from his head.”
The gadget is product of a composite board far too fragile for mass manufacturing, and retail gadgets had fiberglass circuit boards that seemed a lot completely different than the one up for public sale, Cohen stated.
Public sale home spokesman Bobby Livingston referred to as Cohen a “world-renowned skilled on Apple 1s” and stated the public sale home is assured the piece “is correctly described. We assure it.”
Cohen and Terrell agree Polaroids of the gadget had been taken by Terrell in 1976, however Cohen insists Terrell is “positively misremembering” by asserting the photographs present one of many first 50 gadgets he obtained to promote and never the prototype proven by Jobs and Wozniak. “Folks’s recollections are defective, however you may’t argue with the info. We’ve the proof,” Cohen stated.
What’s Woz suppose? He couldn’t say which iteration of the Apple-1 laptop the gadget represents as a result of the photographs offered “no actual clues” and confirmed the usual components he used.
Woz admits he’s stumped: “I can’t let you know what precise era this board is.”
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT
Get a glimpse on the Apple-1 together with different notable relics of computing through the Classic Laptop Pageant West 2022 on the Laptop Historical past Museum this weekend from 10 a.m. to six p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to five p.m. Sunday.