by Brooke Kennedy
Few companies have had the same incredible success and longevity as Apple. Though the company has continued to advance their technology, collectors and computer historians are still on the hunt for vintage Apple products and Steve Jobs memorabilia. RR Auction is always striving to provide our clients with those exceedingly rare items you can’t find anywhere else, and this auction is no different.
The Early Days of Apple Computer
Fully-functioning Apple-1 computers and Steve Jobs signed checks have made several appearances and earned stellar results, and collectors could still find many more historical pieces for their collection.
During the development of the Apple-1 computer (1976), Steve Jobs was busy figuring out the best ways to market their new creation. Penned entirely in his own hand, Jobs drafted up an advertisement outlining the Apple-1’s unique features.
“All Power Supplies, 8K bytes of RAM (16 pin 4K dynamic)…fully expandable to 65K via edge connector, 58 ic’s which includes 16 for 8K ram!” Jobs then proposes a $75 price tag for “board only + manual, a real deal.”
At this time, the Apple-1 was originally conceived as a kit geared towards hobbyists who would have to put the board together themselves. This idea was eventually scrapped when Paul Terrell, owner of Mountain View, California’s The Byte Shop, requested that the Apple-1 computers be fully-assembled before selling them.
The text from this ad lines up closely with one of Apple’s first ever advertisements printed in the 1976 issue of Interface Magazine, “a fully assembled, tested & burned-in microprocessor board using the 6502 microprocessor…on-board RAM capacity of 8K bytes.”
Visible at the bottom of the ad, Jobs writes out his full name, “steven jobs,” and writes out his personal address and phone number, “11161 Crist dr., Los Altos, Ca 940222, (415) 968-3596.” This address also served as the original headquarters for Apple Company Computer when it was first founded.
Included with this lot were two polaroids taken at The Byte Shop showcasing the fully assembled Apple-1 board with its keyboard and monitor and an Apple-1 computer screen displaying an Apple Basic Program. Jobs annotates the latter polaroid writing, “fuzzy because camera wiggled.”
The consignor details his years-long friendship with Jobs, “I met Steve Jobs in the 8th grade in 1968. He being new to the school, Jobs was looking for someone to hang out with for the summer, and so he and I became fast friends,” they wrote in their provenance statement. “During the time that the Apple 1 was in progress, I visited Steve several times (Christmas of 1975, spring break 1976, and summer of 1976)…It was during one of these visits that Steve gave me a Polaroid photo of the computer, a Polaroid screenshot of Apple 1 Basic, and a handwritten offer of bare boards for $75 each.”
Accompanied by the original ad, these polaroids show the quick change in Apple’s mission – and signify the start of something the world had never seen before.
RR’s original estimate of $30,000 was quickly exceeded, making the final selling price $175,759 for its consignor.
The First-Ever Computers and Consoles
Though the Apple-1 is widely regarded as the first mainstream personal computer, there was another device that preceded its creation by 20 years. The Bendix G-15, weighing close to 1,000 pounds, is considered by many to be the first ever personal mini-computer, as it only required one person to operate it. This particular model is just the third Bendix G-15 to have ever been built and sold by the Bendix Corporation. Our consignor was thrilled with RR’s selling price of $62,461, more than twice its estimate and 62 times its weight.
Another item on this roster of firsts, the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) gave the gaming industry a necessary breath of fresh air. At the time of its North American release in 1985, interest in video games was on the decline. The development of personal computers, low quality games, and oversaturation contributed to the disinterest, but that didn’t stop Nintendo.
To bring new life to the hobby, Nintendo focused on creating their own high quality games through the use of third party developers and strict licensing requirements. It was around this time that titles like Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, and – perhaps most notably – Super Mario Bros. would begin to appear.
This NES includes an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros., which served as a pack-in game for the console. This encapsulated example sold for $50,000, a dizzying amount considering that, at the time of its release, it originally retailed about $179.99.
Only eight more auctions left in the year 2023, so if you have any items you’d like to sell now is the time! We are still looking for items for Fine Autographs and Artifacts, the JFK 60th Anniversary event, our last Marvels of Modern Music auction of 2023. And if you have any Steve Jobs memorabilia or vintage computer artifacts you’re looking to sell, you’ve seen our selling prices. Click the consign button below to begin the consignment process or give our professionals a call at 800-937-3880.
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