Classic Apple computer sets new world record at auction

An extremely rare, working example of Apple’s first PC has sold for $671,400 in Germany.

It is believed to be one of only six working examples of the Apple I, the computer that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak conceived and built in a garage. The fledgling PC was little more than a circuit board to which the owner needed to add a power supply, monitor and keyboard. Yet despite being minimalist in the extreme, it retailed for $666.66 back in 1976 and Jobs and Wozniak estimate that they built and sold 200 in total and, in doing so, kickstarted the personal computer revolution.

The German auction house Auction Team Breker, based in Cologne, which hosted the sale on May 25, is also the company responsible for setting the existing record -- in November, it sold a near-identical working Apple I for $640,000.

The computer’s new owner is described as an entrepreneur from the Far East who wishes to remain anonymous. The Apple I had belonged to Fred Hatfield, a retired electrical engineer living in New Orleans who had owned the device from new. According to the New York Times, he sold the then-broken computer earlier this year for $40,000 to an unnamed businessman. He subsequently had it repaired and got Steve Wozniak to autograph the circuit board before entering it in Saturday’s sale.

When he was informed that the now-functioning computer had set a new world record, Hatfield is quoted as saying: “My God,” before adding: “Best to him. He’s the one who fixed it up and figured the best way to sell it for all that money. Evidently, he’s very good at this.”ch/kc