Value of the Apple-1 computer

Historical significance

The true value of the Apple-1 computer is its historical significance. It was the very first Apple computer. The foundation on which the entire Apple corporation was built.

The development of the Apple-1 led to the extraordinarily successful Apple II computer shortly thereafter. Steve Wozniak, the developer of both computers, was only able to design the Apple II because of the experience and money made with the Apple-1.

It is so easy: Without the Apple-1, the Apple company would not exist. One should expect to find an Apple-1 behind bulletproof glass in a golden shrine at Apple headquarters. Everything began with the Apple-1.

There is an excellent discussion about which computer had the biggest impact or which computer is the most 'important'. From the user's point of view, it's definitely not the Apple-1. Its value lies in being the first of a highly successful company that successfully marketed all kinds of groundbreaking products. For years, the prices of many vintage computers have been rising unceasingly.

Steve Jobs achievements and successes should be others. The Apple-1 is an invention of Steve Wozniak. Regarding the Apple-1, Steve Jobs' contributions were to have bought some chips cheaply, to have cleverly sold the first 50 Apple-1s to Paul Terrell of the Byte Shop, and most importantly, to have convinced Steve Wozniak to want to sell the Apple-1 at a profit.


The value is what a collector, investor or museum is willing to pay for it. It is the same with cars, paintings etc.

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.

Vintage computers are still at the beginning of a rapid price evolution. In the 90’s you could buy an Apple-1 for US$ 10,000. Now, you need some hundred thousand Dollar. Once super-rich collectors and institutional investors discover vintage computers, prices go through the roof. Who does not wish to have bought one or another collector's item years ago, because today it is worth vast sums?

One day, an Apple-1 will cost several million US Dollar. Maybe in 5 years, maybe in 20. The number of the very first Apple computer is extremely limited. And many Apple-1 are now in museums.

Some people collect paintings, some classic cars, some planes etc. and some now collect vintage computer.

Just imagine having bought a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in the 90’s for maybe one Million Dollar and some people thought, it is totally crazy to pay so much. In 2018 the same car was sold for 48+ Million Dollar at Sotheby’s.

Is an Apple-1 worth more than a million Dollar? Absolutely, for someone sometime. Maybe now, maybe in 5 years. As soon as a certain group of collectors jumps on the train, the race begins. Already in 2016, a collector was willing to pay more than 1 million Dollar if necessary.

We have seen some auction with a surprising “low price”. This was always due to special circumstances. For example, there were auctions whose websites were down or not working correctly at the time of bidding. Some auctions were almost not advertised and announced with a lead time of less than 2 weeks.

For years, the prices of many vintage computers have been rising unceasingly. Some only a little, others strongly. The prices of the Apple-1 gained the fastest. The death of Steve Jobs led to a rapid increase in market value. After some time, the market cooled briefly, but rose significantly a short time later.

Update February 2022: After it was discovered that Steve Jobs wrote the serial number on many of the first Apple-1s, there was a lot of speculation regarding the increase in value. The historical significance of this discovery was and is paramount. More about it.
In view of the enormous auction proceeds of everything that Steve Jobs wrote or signed by hand, an increase in value is quite likely. There is often talk of a doubling of the value or more. The future will show this.
It is also quite conceivable that Apple-1s without handwritten serial numbers will also increase in value. More and more people or museums interested in Apple-1s are realizing that there are very few of these historically significant devices. Apple's huge fan base is also contributing to increased demand.

Update August 2022: The production prototype that would have been sold for way more than a million US Dollar, but...
It is most likely due to erroneous reporting in blogs and newspapers that the prototype was not auctioned off for far more than a million US$. It started with a reporter who asked Woz about the prototype. Since this reporter obviously had little knowledge of Apple-1 computers and the prototypes, he asked Woz about the hand-soldered prototype. However, this is a completely different prototype.

The prototype that was auctioned off was the one that was industrially manufactured. Woz made corrections to this prototype by hand-soldering. Laymen and said reporter now mixed the information from the prototype from production with the hand-soldered prototype. And so, doubts spread.

Many blogs picked up the alleged story in the eternal search for clicks or, as usual, copied the text 1:1. And that, unfortunately, also as usual, without checking or researching anything. It was the victory of those who have no idea but like to have a hasty opinion on everything. For those involved in the field, it was terrible to see such a historical object being denigrated. It is the first production prototype of the most valuable company in the world. That should be enough to recognize its historical significance.

The future

The number of Apple-1 is finite. A museum that owns an Apple-1 will only very rarely remove it from exhibits. In addition, there are also companies that are looking for a striking exhibit for their company headquarters. Those will never appear on the market again.

More and more private collections reach huge dimensions and often the Apple-1 is sought as the holy grail. Usually, only auctions are publicized and even auctions often go unnoticed published. Many sales happen privately and confidentially.

Supply and demand always set the price. The desire to own an Apple-1 is held by many enthusiasts.

Further predictions

This prediction is not a guarantee, but is based on an subjective view of the situation.

Nobody has a crystal ball. However, it can be assumed and is very likely that there is only one direction. Upwards. Rare and historically significant objects are steadily increasing in value. Especially in times of economic and/or political instability, many investors are looking for safe harbors.

The analogy can easily be made to other rare objects. Whether paintings, vintage cars or even vintage computers, these objects will all increase in value. Some faster and more violently than others.

Any form of reprint or reproduction (including excerpts) only with written permission of the Apple-1 Registry. Everyone can link to any information of the Apple-1 Registry.

For all inquiries contact the Apple-1 Registry.

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