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Apple 1 computer motherboard sells for $374,500

Original Apple 1 computer motherboard sold for $374,500 at Sotheby's.An original Apple 1 computer motherboard sold this morning at Sotheby’s for $374,500. The auction house originally estimated the item would sell for $120,000 to $180,000.

Filed under “Fine Books and Manuscripts,” the motherboard is operational and is marked “Apple Computer 1″ and dated 1976.

“It is thought that fewer than 50 Apple 1 Computers survive, with only [six] known to be in working condition,” Sotheby’s reports in catalog notes.

The iconic piece of technology history features a MOS Technologies 6502 microprocessor and 8 kilobytes of RAM. The original Apple 1 computers retailed for $666.66 in 1979 and did not include a monitor, keyboard, case or power supply. Only about 200 Apple 1 computers were produced.

How the Apple 1 made it to store shelves is also told in the Sotheby’s catalog notes.

“When Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs presented the Apple I Computer to the Homebrew Computer Club in 1976, it was dismissed by everyone but Paul Terrell, the owner of a chain of stores called Byte Shop. Terrell ordered 50 computers for $500 a piece, insisting that the circuit boards come fully assembled rather than as DIY kits similar to the Altair, and Jobs and Woz managed to produce the requisite computers in 30 days. They continued production, immediately creating 50 additional Apple I’s[sic] to sell to friends and an additional 100 to sell through vendors, at a retail price of $666.66, a number that garnered complaints among conservative Christians, but provided a lucrative 33 [percent] markup.”

A note written by Steve Jobs at Atari was also on the sold at auction today for $27,500.

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