Another Apple 1 was sold last month for a record $671,400 by a German auction house, breaking a previous record of $640,000 set in November. Sotheby's sold one last year for $374,500.
“This is the seed from which the entire orchard grew, and without this, there would be no Apple,” said Stephen A. Edwards, professor of computer science at Columbia University. “I've been shocked auction prices got into the six digits. The market has just gone crazy.”
The latest auction at Christie's, “First Bytes: Iconic Technology from the Twentieth Century,” is being conducted online from June 24 to July 9. The Apple 1 is to be displayed starting Monday at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, west of San Francisco.
Perry, 70, acquired his Apple 1 in either 1979 or 1980, as a second-hand item he saw advertised. He paid nothing for it; it was a swap with the owner.
“I traded some other computer equipment I had for the Apple 1,” he said.
An expert hired by Christie's went to Perry's home to examine the old Apple and try to turn it on. Only the motherboard is original. A keyboard, monitor and a storage device — a portable cassette tape deck — were added later.
“I was a little afraid to run it, but it still works, with the original chips!” he says.