The Apple-1

The Apple-1 is now . Steve Wozniak is . Steve Jobs would be .

About the -year-old Apple-1

In 1976, engineer Steve Wozniak, while working at HP, built the Apple-1 computer from scratch. He finished his work in March 1976. Together with Steve Jobs and Ronald G. Wayne, both working for Atari, they founded the company Apple Computer that would make history and change the world. Because of many inquiries about the value of an Apple-1, here is a short evaluation.

Draper and Achim Baqué Before Steve Wozniak created the Apple-1, he built just 13 years old a transistor-based calculator and at the age of 19 together with Bill Fernandez a computer called the Cream Soda Computer. Bill Werner got the chips for it. Bill Fernandez introduced Steve Jobs to Steve Wozniak.

Later Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs sold together illegal phone phreaking boxes, called Blue Box. Those were invented by John Draper (aka Captain Crunch). Steve Wozniak (aka Crazy Pollack) met him and started to build his own Blue Boxes. Wozniak tried to use the Blue Box to prank the pope. He called the pope claiming Henry Kissinger would speak.

Former Villa Serra Apartments Steve Wozniak designed the Apple-1. Only 200 Apple-1 were produced in total. According to Steve Wozniak, 175 were originally assembled.
Steve Wozniak wrote in an email, that a few were made in a pre-production run. This is given by the pictures of the Apple #2 listed in the registry. Clearly a pre-series model of the Apple-1. None of the pre-production Apple-1 have been seen for many years.
Despite so many articles about the Apple-1 designed in a garage, it happened in Steve Wozniak's apartments.
Sometimes a unit number showed up in articles but it seems, mostly the unit number are wrong. Articles claiming it was 16K, 36K etc. He moved from his apartment 16D to an upstairs apartment. His first apartment was 16D. The number is written from his "blue box time" as the sender in a letter from Woz. His nickname was The Crazy Pollack (dial-a-joke).
The Apple-1 was partly built in 16D and finish in his second apartment in another block. Woz stated, that he can’t remember the unit number but he was guessing 22L or 24L.
In an Homebrew Computer Club newsletter (issue number one from March 15, 1975) Woz' apartment is 36K. But at least in 2019 no apartment with this number exist. Strangely is from early 1975.
Former Villa Serra Apartments
Former Villa Serra Apartments Apple-1 Registry curator Achim Baqué checked it by himself and drove to 20800 Homestead Rd in Cupertino in August 2019. It is now renamed. In block 16 and 36 is no apartment “K”. Block 24 got no “K” or “L” as well. But, block 22 has a unit “L” and it is upstairs (which matches Woz’ information). So maybe, it was 22L.
Why is that interesting at all? Well, it is significant because of the IT history. It was the foundation stone of Apple.

The unusual display section is a result of the so-called 'Computer Converser' which Steve Wozniak and Alex Kamradt designed as a terminal. The idea came from an article in the magazine Popular Electronics 1975.

The motherboard was designed by Howard Cantin (an Atari employee at the time). Steve Jobs bought the components from Cramer Electronics (today Arrow Electronics) on a net 30 day term. All Apple-1’s components including IC sockets were soldered in a factory.

Steve Jobs' parents' home The IC chips were placed in Steve Jobs' parents' house. Steve Job's sister and Daniel Kottke equipped the mainboards. His sister made just a few before Daniel took over the work. She bent too many pins of the chips while watching TV. First 50 boards in the house, next 50 in the garage. Steve Wozniak showed up about once a week and corrected any mistakes in the garage. As soon as a few mainboards were equipped, those were delivered to the Byte Shop. First price of the Apple Computer was US$ 666.66 just because Wozniak likes repeating numbers.

First Byte Shop The first 50 Apple-1 were sold to the Byte Shop, owned by Paul Terrell, who met Steve at the Homebrew Computer Club. Without this contact, the Apple Company might not exist. The Byte Shop was one of the first personal computer retailers. Paul Terrell was visionary and wanted to offer a fully assembled computer for little money. Only later did Paul Terrell realize that a complete computer in Steve Jobs' eyes meant the assembled board. Keyboard, cassette interface and tape recorder had to be bought.
East Coast: Later Stan Veit bought an Apple-1. He was the owner of the east coast's first computer store. He showed this computer at the Association of Computer Machinery and in the beginning nobody believed him that the Apple-1 would be a computer.
According to Daniel Kottke, a car dealer contacted Apple and wanted to use the Apple-1 computers for his business. This was by far the most lucrative idea. But it never happened.
All Apple-1 came out without a case, keyboard and power supply.


For the first time the Apple-1 computer was presented August 28-29, 197 at the PC76 - Personal Computing Consumer Trade Fair in Atlantic City, NJ, USA (black and white picture).
It was by the way the first national personal computer show. Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Daniel Kottke presented the Apple-1 at Stan Veit's booth.

Serial number (handwritten number on the back)

Serial There is no serial number on every Apple-1 computer!
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 got 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 permanent marker on a pcb. Usually it was printed on the board or a label was used.

In January 2022, Achim Baqué found proof that Steve Jobs wrote the serial numbers! Read more here.

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

In addition to the serial number some Apple-1 computer have a small round stamp with a number in the middle. Others have small labels on the back. The origin of these marks is also unknown. Those labels are usually used in the factories.

The Byte Shop theory seems plausible. Only one question remained: 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.

Labels and stamps

Some Apple-1 have a label and / or stamp on the back or front.

Nobody know the origin but usually it is used for quality control at manufacturing.
Stamps are mostly found on the back under the power section or on the front next to the heat sink.
Labels are found somewhere on the back or sometimes on the breadboard area. So far the number hast two or four digits. Some boards even has two labels. The 4 digit number has so far always been 4062.
The handwritten serial number is always unique except for one number which exist twice (so far).
Labels with the same number '4062' are found on some boards of the 2nd batch. So far only Apple-1 of the 2nd batch have labels sometimes.

Different Apple-1 mainboards

non-NTI The Apple-1 was produced in two batches: The second batch was made by another manufacturer. Apple-1 of the first batch were built around April 1976. Those Apple-1 of the first batch are the first produced Apple-1 ever and the oldest ones. Only the prototypes pre-dates it. And only Apple-1 of the first batch got many times the handwritten serial number on the back. Because they are several months older, many collector trying to get these boards.
For example Mike Willegal created a replica mainboard of the Apple-1 mainboard and used the early version of the first batch as a reference.
The mainboards are almost identical. The mainboard color is different.

NTI The differences between both versions are easy to spot. The second batch has a rhombic logo with letters NTI inside under the 'Apple Computer 1' logo and was produced second half of 1976. Decoupling capacitors are square shaped multilayer capacitors (usually green). Mainboard of 1st batch have round ceramic capacitors. Some NTI boards have different electrolyte capacitors. Usually they are blue but some NTI boards have one or more yellow electrolytic capacitors. PIA and CPU on boards of 1st batch have sometimes ceramic chips. Mostly the CPU. Many boards of 1st batch have the plastic AMI PIA. On the second batch only plastic chips were used but some owner changed it later to ceramic versions to look better.
So far, Apple-1 of 1st and 2nd batch have seen very high results at auctions in the past.

Production prototype - 'Apple Computer A'
Proto The number of pre-production and hand wired Apple-1 is unknown. Maybe and unfortunately no such Apple-1 survived.
The pictures showing a preproduction Apple-1. By far the biggest difference is the name. The motherboard reads "Apple Computer A © 76". More about it here.

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