Steve Jobs' legacy

The serial number is on the back of some first Apple-1. Two forensic examination of the handwriting were done in 2021/22 using two original Apple-1s. Both times it was confirmed that it is Steve Jobs' handwriting.

The solved riddle of the serial number

For 45 years there were discussions and searches for the originator of the serial number. Never was a forensic analysis carried out. The value of the Apple-1 alone makes this investigation time-consuming and expensive. To be sure, Achim Baqué flew in November 2021 from Germany to Los Angeles (USA) with two original Apple-1s. Both were examined and the result is clear.

The serial number is Steve Jobs' handwriting! The 45-year-old mystery is solved. Another legacy of Steve Jobs.
Read the short or detailed story.

Press release and free usable pictures.
And here is the list of all known Apple-1 with a serial number.

Everyone who can’t understand the ‚hype‘ around the Apple-1 should consider: No Apple-1 = no Apple II = no Apple company. It is a useless discussion if an item should be worth so much. Only a few exist, many people want it and so the value goes up. That’s the way it is.

About the serial number of the first Apple-1 computers

Serial Not on every Apple-1 computer is a serial number!
Some (not all!) Apple-1 of the 1st batch have a handwritten number on the back which is obviously a serial number. None of the 2nd batch (also called 'NTI' Apple-1) have a serial number.
List of all known serial numbers on the back of some 1st batch Apple-1.

There were many theories surrounding this number. Only Apple-1 computers sold by the Byte Shop seems to have this number. But nobody remembers where the number really comes from. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Daniel Kottke, Paul Terrell, the board manufacturer etc. all say that they didn't put the number on the mainboard. For a factory it would be very unusual to write a serial number magic marker on a pcb. Usually it was printed on the board or a label was used.

Here is a list of all known serial numbers on the back of some 1st batch Apple-1.

The Byte Shop theory seemed to be plausible. But why do numbers greater than 50 exist? Mike Willegal found an explanation. Data Domain Computer had purchased Apple-1 computers directly from the Byte Shop. Mike asked Thom Hogan (Data Domain Computer) about this. At that time, Data Domain Computers had found a practical application. One was at the Kentucky Derby.
Ray Borrill, the owner of Data Domain, bought 15 Apple-1. Probably more later. They sold 13 Apple-1, 1 was donated to the US Olympic tennis team and destroyed in a plane crash. The last one was auctioned in 2001.

The sale of Apple-1 to Data Domain Computers by the Byte Shop explains the higher numbers quite well.

There are computers whose serial number is greater than 50. That is not a contradiction. The Byte Shop got more than just the 50 and sold some Apple-1 to Data Domain Computers.

Steve Jobs wrote serial numbers on the Apple-1 computers [very short explaination]

Press release and free usable pictures.

The handwritten numbers on the back of some Apple-1 computers, apparently representing a serial number, were the biggest unsolved mystery surrounding Apple's first computer. Only 100 and a short time later another 100 Apple-1s were produced and around 82 still exist. This serial number can be found on some Apple-1s from the first batch.

The Apple-1 is the rarest and the most valuable microcomputer in the world. Achim Baqué, who maintains the Apple-1 Registry (a listing of all Apple-1 computers) has spent several years researching and collecting handwriting samples. Two forensic examinations in the USA using original Apple-1s have shown that Steve Jobs actually wrote the serial number on the first Apple-1. Another legacy of Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs wrote serial numbers on the Apple-1 computers [detailed explaination]

Press release and free usable pictures.

Germany - February 10, 2022

The handwritten numbers on the back of some Apple-1 computers, apparently representing a serial number, were the biggest unsolved mystery surrounding Apple's first computer. The Apple-1 is the most valuable microcomputer in the world.

Only 200 Apple-1 computers were produced in two batches of 100. Around 82 still exist. About 80 of the 1st batch have the handwritten serial number on the back. 29 of these 80 1st batch Apple-1 still exist. The majority of the first series Apple-1s were sold to the Byte Shop.

Only a few people came into contact with the entire first production of Apple-1 computers in 1976. Steve Wozniak had always said that he did not write the serial numbers. Daniel Kottke does also not remember. The mainboard manufacturer would have used at least a label.

Since 2015, Achim Baqué wanted to solve the mystery and find the originator of the handwriting. Achim Baqué is the curator of the Apple-1 Registry, an avid collector of vintage computers and owns several Apple-1 computers. The Apple-1 Registry is a listing of all known Apple-1 computers.

Some research and correspondence with people from the first days of Apple followed. Handwriting samples of Steve Wozniak, employees of the first Byte Shop and others showed even a layman that they had not written the numbers. During one of the visits to Daniel Kottke, Achim Baqué asked for writing samples of Daniel and Steve Jobs. Daniel owns some postcards and letters from Steve Jobs from the 70s. The documents contain many numbers.

Up to this point, it was still unclear who wrote the serial number. Steve Jobs’ letters and signatures always achieve record results at auctions. Such assumptions must be treated with great caution. It requires a forensic expert opinion as evidence. The mystery should finally be solved

End of 2021 Achim Baqué asked PSA in Santa Ana (California, USA) to do two forensic examinations of the serial numbers. PSA is one of the most renowned companies for sports card evaluation and forensic handwriting comparisons.

Two original Apple-1s were personally transported from Germany to Los Angeles (USA) for examination in November 2021 and remained there until January 2022. In addition, PSA received images of all handwritten numbers from Apple-1 computers and further handwriting samples.

After 45 years it could be clarified that it is a further legacy of Steve Jobs. Many owners of an original Apple-1 can be happy not only to own one of the rarest and most valuable computers in the world. Now they also have the personal touch of Steve Jobs' handwriting.

Of the 29 known Apple-1s with serial numbers, the Achim Baqué the curator is in contact with 21 owners. Hopefully, all Apple-1 owners are now encouraged to contact the Apple-1 Registry.

Why wasn't a forensic analysis done earlier? Original Apple-1 and handwriting samples are needed. A photo is not enough. And the investigation is very expensive.

The first Apple-1 with verified serial number written by Steve Jobs

Press release and free usable pictures.

PSA provided a certificate of authenticity. It is even possible to validate the authentication online.

Samples of the serial number

Publishing, that Steve Jobs wrote the serial numbers

As a speaker, I (Achim Baqué) was invited to talk about the Apple-1 registry at an event prior to World Computer Day on February 15, 2022. I told Jim Scherrer of the Compuseum that I had the results of two forensic examinations of the handwritten serial number on some Apple-1s. And I would know who wrote them. He was excited and encouraged me to speak about it.

There were only 9 speakers, and what an honor to speak at the same event with people like Bill Mensch, Bill Herd, Al Charpentier and many others. I felt so small.

During the session Jim asked me to speak about the Apple-1 Registry. Even at that moment I was unsure if I should announce it. The update for the registry and a press report was already ready, but not published. The discovery of the writer of the serial number is not directly related to the 6502 issue. However, many of the previous speakers were talking about the Apple-1 and also had stories around the Apple-1. In this respect, it has indirectly to do with the 6502. Without this processor there would have been no Apple-1 and without the Apple-1 there would have been no Apple company. While talking about the Apple-1 Registry I thought 'why not'?

After the Zoom session I updated the websites and contacted all owners of an original Apple-1 with a serial number. Of the so far 29 known Apple-1 with serial number I have contact to 21.

Hopefully, now every Apple-1 owner will contact me and share information about their Apple-1. Everything can be published or I can keep it confidential and just preserve the information and history.

I should have mentioned online that my first computer was at school an Apple II with 6502 and shortly after a Basis 108 (a way better Apple II clone with 6502). But after the meeting meeting I was having the chance of getting in touch with Bill Mensch, which is great. I was already connected with Bill Herd.

More about the publishing and some personal notes

During the Zoom meeting on Feb 10, 2022 it was often talked about the Apple-1 before it was my turn. After all, it is also the 6502 computer that made the Apple company possible. Towards the end, it was also about NFTs for over 30 minutes. Here I had nothing to contribute. Anyway, the value of some computers is another success of the 6502.

From my point of view, there are three reasons or a mix of all that motivates people to own old computers. Some simply like the old technology and working with it, others love the historical significance and the last group is looking for an investment object. As soon as a certain value is exceeded, not everyone likes it. But that's the way it is with rare and desirable objects. The prices arise from the desire to own the object. For example, a special old car is suddenly worth over a million dollars because many want to own it and are willing to bid more for it. It's no different with old computers. The more desirable and rare, the faster the prices rise. An Apple Lisa 1, for example, was available a few years ago for a fifth of today's price.

I spoke with Liza Loop before the event and she told me to be sure to contact the World Computer Day organizers. Liza shared her fantastic story of how she got the Apple-1. An incredible story and an incredible teacher. Jim Scherrer had supposedly been trying to contact me since 2018. Sorry, I must have missed that. The organizers asked me several times, and so I agreed a week before the Zoom meeting.

For a long time I thought about going online with this in the meeting because there are always mixed reactions directly. It is simply because of the value of the Apple-1 computer. It immediately arouses emotions. However, I was strongly asked to talk about it. We ended up talking about NFTs for 30+ minutes. The topic is at least as emotional and here I had nothing to contribute.

Many of the previous speakers during the event mentioned Apple-1 or had it as a topic. In that respect, my contribution was also fitting. After all, the success of the Apple-1 is a result of the 6502, and the Apple-1 is so significantly important to me from a historical perspective. I myself respect Apple's work and products, work and use Windows and Android myself. And why not?

I would have liked Ray Holt to be among the speakers because of the Jolt. I have a very nice contact with him. His stories are fascinating. The historical significance of the Apple-1 is gigantic. Anyone reading this right now on a Mac or an iPhone should be aware that Woz only built the Apple II because Steve Jobs encouraged him to do so after the mini-success of the Apple-1. No Apple-1 = no Apple company. Woz would still be working at HP and you could only fantasize about Steve Jobs' future.

I became more and more fascinated by the Apple-1 and the contacts with really interesting people from the early days was and is priceless. Is there a hype around the Apple-1? Yes, definitely. As with other Apple products and the Apple company.

For some it is just unbearable that this computer has a certain value. This is always the case, as soon as something exceeds a certain value, that seems exaggerated to many. But the prices are not an invention or fantasy. There is a small amount of many desirable objects, whether Apple-1, classic cars or paintings. The more people want to own these objects, the more often they outbid each other and so the value is determined. This can mean a few hundred or a few million. The Apple-1 is not the only old computer here, just currently the most valuable. Woz as the originator of the serial number was unlikely. But I also had writing samples from him. I guessed they were from Daniel Kottke or a Byte Shop employee. It's not Woz's style to catalog anything. Woz also said it wasn't him and his handwriting is completely different. I had contact with so many other people and tried everything to get to the bottom of it. For example, Bill Fernandez, Chris Espinosa and Paul Terrell.

The forensic analysis should have been carried out earlier. However, it is quite pricy. Also, taking two Apple-1s from Germany to the USA and picking them up, plus the paperwork for a temporary customs export is a costly and risky venture. The PSA company did accept my handwriting samples and hints. However, the experts themselves only used the samples from their archives.
At least the detective work was fun. For example, Daniel Kottke in Palo Alto showed me letters and a postcard from Steve Jobs in India. You don't have something like that in your hand every day. It's always a pleasure to visit Daniel anyway. Hopefully we'll be going back to Buck's of Woodside soon and having dinner with Jamis. Jamis MacNiven, by the way, was very happy to hear the news. He now has an Apple-1 with Woz signature and Jobs handwriting. Congratulations! So many interesting people have come to Daniel's to date. Among others, I happened to meet John Draper (aka Captain Crunch) during a visit. It is very much in the style of Steve Jobs to want control and to number Apple-1s when delivering to the Byte Shop.

It was important to me personally and worth finding out where the numbers came from.

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