When the first Apple computer went on sale in 1976, it retailed for $US666.66.
On Thursday, one of the early Apple-1 computers sold for $US815,000 ($1.07 million) at auction.
But it’s not just any Apple-1, which are rare enough on their own. It’s a one-of-a-kind “unicorn,” Glenn Dellimore, the winner of the rare computer, tells Business Insider.
Glenn and Shannon Dellimore, founders of Glamglow, now an Estée Lauder brand, bought the computer because, in their eyes, it’s akin to a Monet or a Picasso.
“Talking to historians and museums and auction houses, this particular Apple-1 in 10 to 15 years, could be worth as much as a Monet or Picasso,” Dellimore said.
As Glenn Dellimore tells it, he almost didn’t end up winning the rare computer, because as the auction was ending, he was in the air — and there was another bidder with deep pockets who wanted the computer.
“When the auction was taking place, I realised we’d actually be in the air when it ended. Just as our wheels touched down, there were 30 seconds left in the auction and I was actually outbidded with 37 seconds left,” Dellimore said. “I think the bid was $270,000 when I looked, and then it went up again, and I kept going bidding with someone else until it was $515,000. I said, ‘you know what, I’m just going to put in a large number.'”
He said he might have bidded up to $2 million if he had been outbid again.
“Typically with things that are so valuable and so rare, there will be buyers in the world that are willing to pay whatever it takes,” he said.
The computer that Dellimore won is in fact one of a kind. There aren’t too many Apple-1 computers still in existence (maybe 60, and another one of those is owned by Dellimore).
But the one that was up for auction may have be even rarer. It came with full documentation, tapes, and handwritten notes.
Plus, the computer looked like it started as a “blank original-run board,” not from the production runs, which means it may have been one of the first Apple-1 computers ever made. It’s entirely possible that Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak, the two Apple founders, may have worked with it.
Some of the components are even different from what was included in the final Apple-1 computers.
Dellimore wants to display the artifact for a limited time with a partner institution like a museum, and he wants the piece of history to be used to help educate younger people.
But he thinks that ultimately, the computer is worth far more than $815,000 — it’s priceless.
“The possibility of it being the number one, the very first prototype that Steve worked on, and with the way over time Apple has changed the world, this computer is the holy grail of computers, it is the most important computer on the planet, I think,” Dellimore said.