Rare Apple Macintosh prototype up for auction
One of only two surviving Apple Macintosh prototypes with a working 5 ¼ inch Apple drive is going up for auction on December 4. The headliner of Bonhams' History of Science and Technology sale, this extremely rare Mac desktop computer is expected to fetch up to US$180,000.
When the Macintosh was first released to the public in 1984, it was a sensation of both design and marketing. It was not only the first successful microcomputer boasting a Graphic User Interface (GUI) and a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) environment set in an all-in-one case/monitor with a mouse controller, it was also launched after the one-off airing of a Ridley Scott-directed, US$1.5 million television commercial during that year's Superbowl, a broadcast regarded today as one of the classics of advertising.
The development of the Mac was anything but straightforward, as Apple worked to take the design of its previous Lisa computer and use the latest microprocessors to turn it into the jumping-off point for the next big thing in desktop machines. It's a story filled with drama, confrontations, and even plane crashes, but the result changed the nature of computer design fundamentally from the previous world of text-based systems. The Mac was a very big deal.
The prototype Macintosh going on sale at Bonhams is notable because it is equipped with the 5 ¼ inch "Twiggy" drive that was originally used in the Apple Lisa. The large floppy drive was obsolescent by 1984 and it was not working out from an engineering angle for the Mac, so it was eventually replaced with a Sony 3 ½ inch drive.
According to Bonhams, Steve Jobs ordered all the 5 ¼ inch drive Macintoshes destroyed. However, the one up for sale was saved by the developers of the original MacWrite word processing program and went on to be shown at the Mac@30 Anniversary Celebration in 2014, where it was booted up and operated by Steve Wozniak.
In addition to the historic Macintosh, the sale also includes a working Apple-1, a prototype mid-1990s Apple Video Pad, and early printed works by various computer pioneers including Lady Lovelace and Norbert Weiner.