Apple I computer, hand built by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, sells for $210,000 in London
The forefather of the iMac, the Apple I has a processor that runs 1,000 times slower than an iPad. But it also came with a signed sales letter from Jobs, one of Apple's co-founders and the current CEO, according to the AP.
Marco Boglione, an Italian businessman and private collector, was the winning buyer of the rare computer. Boglione made his offer over the phone -- no word as to whether he was calling from an iPhone.
Marco's brother, Francesco Boglione, was at the auction in person and told the AP that the purchase was an example of his brother's love of computers.
"The first time I had heard of the idea of a personal computer, it was from Marco," Franceso Boglione told the AP, adding that his brother probably would return the Apple I to working condition.
The Apple I that sold in London was an especially rare example, complete with its original packaging.
Introduced in 1976, the Apple I was the only personal computer to come with a fully assembled motherboard, making it ready for use directly out of the box -- as long as the user already had a keyboard, monitor and a power supply, Christie's said.
The setup might remind Apple fans of the Mac Mini, which is sold today without a keyboard or display.
The Apple I had the retail lifespan about the same as the first-generation iPhone -- about one year. When new it sold for $666.66. It was discontinued in 1977, according to the AP.
Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with Jobs, was also at the auction and agreed to give an autographed letter to Boglione.
Wozniak told the AP that the auction was a historic moment for his work considering other items sold in the day's auction included legendary pieces of technology such as an Enigma, the German code-making machine, and writings by British mathematician Alan Turing, considered one of the founders of modern computing.
"Today my heart went out as I got to see things auctioned off like the Turing documents and the Enigma machine — and the Apple I," Wozniak told the AP and other media after the auction. "It really was an important step, [even though] I didn't feel that way when I designed it."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: The Apple I computer, also known as the Apple-1, is seen in this photograph released to the media by Christie's International in London. It is one of the original Apple Corp. computers assembled by Steve Jobs and shipped from his parents' garage. Source: Christie's International via Bloomberg