Apple I Computer Sells for $374,500, Jobs Memo for $27,500

Sotheby’s announced on Friday that an Apple I computer up for auction sold for US$374,500, a record price for the device, which launched Apple Computer in 1976. In the same auction, a Steve Jobs memo from his days at Atari sold for $27,500.

Apple I Manual Cover

One of the Manuals Included in the Auction
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s—click for a larger version

The previous record for an Apple I was $212,000, paid by an Italian collector in 2010, a year before the death of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs in October of 2011. It surpassed Sotheby’s estimate of $120,000-$180,000 for the sale.

“My god,” Sellam Ismail told The San Jose Mercury News, “This is almost double what the guy in Italy paid — and his came with a letter signed by Steve Jobs! I think we’ll now see a lot of guys out there willing to part with their beloved Apple 1s saying to themselves, ‘Holy smoke… I can retire now.”’

Mr. Ismail is a Silicon Valley coder who also maintains a directory of the 50 known surviving Apple I computers. The Mercury News said he could barely stop laughing at the news.

While the Apple I sold Friday morning did not come with a letter signed by Steve Jobs, it is a working device, and it included a manual (shown above), a keyboard, and other accessories. Included below is one of the circuit boards that comprised an Apple I. You can see all the boards in higher resolution in the Lot 57 listing in Sotheby’s auction PDF.

The buyer is currently unidentified. The Mercury News spoke with several people in the auction business and the Apple I community who said they believe Friday’s auction price will result in more of the other remaining Apple I computers coming up for auction.

Apple I Circuit Board

One of the Apple I Circuit Boards Sold in Lot 57
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s

Steve Jobs Atari Memo

The other Apple-related item auctioned on Friday was Lot 56, a memo written, hand-signed, and hand-annotated by Steve Jobs from his days as an unwashed, hippy, pseudo-engineer at Atari. The memo was Mr. Jobs’s suggestions for improving World Cup Football, a console arcade game made by Atari in the early 1970.

Steve Jobs-Signed Memo

The Steve Jobs-signed page of the memo.
Image courtesy of Sotheby’s—click for a larger version

The memo was estimated to go for $10,000-$15,000, but ended up selling for $27,500 to an unidentified buyer.