by Brooke Kennedy
While many people may prefer the technology of today, our auction certainly proves that yesterday’s tech hasn’t completely gone out of style. RR Auction’s Steve Jobs and the Apple Computer Revolution auction showcased several rare gems from the tech world, including some rare vintage Apple products! “RR Auction caught wind of the Apple and Jobs fever—and became the go-to selling spot for this rarefied niche,” said Stephen Council at SFGATE. With so many remarkable items sold let’s take a look at some of this auction’s leading items.
Top Sellers of the Evening
Our surprise top seller was this X-Y Axis mouse and coding keyset originally created by Douglas Engelbart. A computer pioneer in the 1950s, his groundbreaking work led to him patenting a design for the computer mouse, development of a basic graphical user interface (GUI), and groupware. This early mouse features three buttons, and the bottom uses two metal discs to locate the position of the cursor. The coding key set has five keys, allowing coders to create 31 key-press combinations to type and enter commands. What makes this set ultra-unique is the similarity of Englebart’s other devices that were used in his 1968 live demo, “The Mother of All Demos.” Engelbart’s patent became exceptionally influential for future generations working in computer software, including famous Apple founder Steve Jobs himself. Jobs decided to license Engelbart’s patent for $40,000 in order to create a more simplified design for his own mouse. This incredibly innovative piece of tech fetched an eye-watering $178,936, about 12 times the estimated price with future values expected to skyrocket. “The mouse was one of the key enablers of the computer revolution, the best known legacy of Engelbart, and there are very few still in private hands. If there is ever another original that reaches auction, the price can be expected to be considerably higher,” said Mike Hanlon at New Atlas.
Speaking of Apple, our second spot was filled by this early, untouched Apple Lisa computer originally owned by Del Yocam. Before Tim Cook joined Apple as their Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 1998, there was Del Yocam. Hired during the company’s early days as a start-up in 1979. He took the company to new heights by setting up manufacturing facilities to help the company meet the demand for their Apple II computer. This particular Apple Lisa was personally owned by Del Yocam, whose name is inscribed on the computer’s presentation plate. The consignor of this exclusive vintage computer originally rescued it from a landfill in Portland, Oregon 15 years prior where it was going to be broken down and used for scrap parts. “Thankfully, he ended up buying as many of the boxes as he could…Unfortunately, several boxes were already loaded and headed out to sea, never to be seen again,” according to Josh Norem at ExtremeTech. The Lisa found its way to our auction block pristine and untouched with its original ‘Twiggy’ drives still intact, realizing $81,251.
Qualifying at number three is the Atari CX3000 graduate computer keyboard prototype. While Atari is well-known for their creation of the first ever video game, Pong, they ventured into the market of home computers. This was intended to be an add-on for the Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS), but it was never released. The original idea behind this keyboard was to have it plug into the front of the Atari 2600 to convert the video game system into a personal home computer for less than $90. Atari developed this to compete with similar add-on keyboards for competing games machines and to be an alternative to other affordable home computers like the Timex/Sinclair or the Texas Instruments TI-99/2. This piece came from the personal collection of Atari’s program manager. Unfortunately, Atari canceled the development of the keyboard in 1983 out of fear that it would cannibalize Atari home computer sales. This one-of-a-kind vintage electronic sold for a jaw-dropping $61,141.
The star item of this auction, a fully functioning Apple-1 demo unit signed by company co-founder Steve Wozniak, also found a new owner. This demo computer was originally owned by Indiana man Doug McIntosh who first saw the device back in 1977 at a Bloomington-based Data Domain. Data Domain was one of Apple’s first dealers in the late seventies. McIntosh spent so much time getting to know the computer and customers would ask him questions about it, despite him not being an employee. He decided to part with the computer after seeing how similar vintage electronics were selling for astronomical prices at RR Auction, such as this Apple-1 computer that sold in December 2020 for $736,863. “I’ve had it long enough and I’ve enjoyed it as much as I can enjoy it,” McIntosh said in an interview with IndyStar. According to SFGATE, the computer was successfully sold for an undisclosed amount.
Other honorable mentions from this auction include a first generation Apple iphone still sealed in its box that sold for $54,904, and Del Yocam’s one millionth MacIntosh Plus which realized $26,590.
Looking to Sell Your Vintage Electronics?
RR Auction has plenty of experience working with vintage computers and other electronics, so join the revolution and sell your items today! We also accept items from the following categories—Hollywood and pop culture, space, military, presidential, music, autographs and manuscripts, literature, and sports. Reach out to us at 800-937-3880.
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