When it was announced earlier this month that a 1976 Apple 1 motherboard would be up for grabs at the Bonhams' History of Science auction in New York, we wondered whether the sale prices such artifacts have attracted in the past adequately reflects their value as landmark innovations. This sale looks to have bucked the trend in the most emphatic fashion, attracting a successful bid of US$905,000 and becoming the most expensive Apple computer ever sold.
Only around 200 of the Apple 1 computers were made and were the first personal computers to make it to market. Complete with a vintage keyboard and Sanyo monitor, the model sold is said to be part of a first batch of 50 and is one of only a handful in working order.
The computer was expected to attract bids between $300,000 and $500,000 but surpassed all expectations, ending up in the hands of a representative from the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.
"The provenance on the Apple-1 is excellent and the condition is outstanding, so it was not surprising that it did so well," says Cassandra Hatton. "We are thrilled to have broken the world record for its sale, and are even more thrilled that it is going to a wonderful new home at the Henry Ford Museum."
There was a host of other scientific relics on offer at last Wednesday's auction, including a Helmholtz Sound Synthesizer. The instrument is described as the first electric keyboard ever made and was sold for $20,000. A letter handwritten by Charles Darwin sold for $4,375, while an original of his 1859 title The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection attracted a bid of $40,000.
A number of items were passed in, perhaps the most noteworthy of which was a window from the Manhattan Project valued at $150,000 to $250,000 that provided a view of plutonium production for the Fat Man atomic bomb.