back to article Hey, Mac fanbois: Got $600,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Splash out on this rare Apple I

It's question we've all asked ourselves: what should I do with that spare $600,000? Well, if you're a fan of computers and especially if you're an Apple fanbois, we have answer for you: buy one of the very few Apple I computers that still exist. Bids have opened in an auction on the extremely rare computer – the first built …

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I'm all for history but in this case, a fool and their money springs to mind.

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I’m thinking 3 Aston Martin DB11’s would be a better use of $600,000...

https://www.caranddriver.com/aston-martin/db11

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I guess that depends on how much further appreciation you foresee in the Apple I's future — in the noughties if you were lucky you could get one for 'only' $20,000. With hindsight that would have been a good investment.

I'm not expecting similar further growth but since the history of prices don't seem to follow any sort of rational pattern of growth, my expectations are clearly fallible.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple fanboys seem to love trotting out how many years of updates apple devices get.

The watch is less supported than my missus £120 Samsung A3 from 2016.... (Which gets regular Android updates every couple of months)

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Anonymous Coward

Huh?

So your wife's Android phone has received 2 years of updates and the 1st generation Apple Watch has received 3 years of updates.

Your definition of "less supported" is somewhat different to mine.

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Meh

Of Apple's ~$10k gear...

Further embarrassment can be found in the $7500 Twentieth Anniversary Mac which spec'd out the same as a $2100 P'Mac 6500, and could not be upgraded to the same degree.

On the other hand, they also had the Mac IIfx, which was probably one of the fastest workstations of its day.

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'Computing revolution'?

"... arguably Apple's first sale and the start of a computing revolution"

Various hardware (*) could be claimed to have started a 'computing revolution'. E.g. IBM entering the PC market gave PCs credibility as a serious business tool.

But wasn't Apple's first sale rather the start of a milk-them-for all-we-can-because-they'll-fall-for-it revolution?

(*) Talking PCs, here. Plenty of other computer-related devices - IBM/360 range?... hard disk drives... solid state memory... also started 'revolutions' that were more significant than a bitten fruit logo. later to be backlit and displayed throughout Starbucks.

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Re: 'Computing revolution'?

On the one hand, and despite their gross overrepresentations, I accept that Apple were one of the companies that helped to bring huge groups of people into the home computer market.

On the other, it seems counterintuitive that a company could produce the computer that started the revolution... if there was already a 'Byte-Shop' to carry the product. That sounds a lot more like a revolution that had already begun.

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Re: 'Computing revolution'?

I heard about the Byte Store at a meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club before the Apple I board existed. So yes, the so-called "computer revolution" was already in full swing, and Apple was late to the party.

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Re: 'Computing revolution'?

Got to give some props to the Commodore PET and the Tandy TRS-80, released the same year as the Apple II. It was an interesting time, especially just a few years later, when we saw cheaper mass market computers going into homes and schools. in 1983, I got my first job, selling computers in Woolworths as a Saturday lad.

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Art Speculators...

A Russian Oligarch And His Money Are Soon Parted

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Art Speculators...

An oligarch and *some* of his money are soon parted. Absolute fucking shitloads minus a fuck ton equals... absolutely fucking shitloads - to the nearest significant figure. The arithmetic isn't difficult.

Seems a recurring thread here - a joy of being minted is to be able to buy what you want a still be minted. Yet skint folk still offer their financial advice to the absolutely minted. Any sane person would figure it would be the other way round.

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WTF?

Did the Reg really ...

want to slag off a charity auction?

It’s not something I’d want to buy myself, but there are plenty of folks out there who are prepared to pay vast amounts of money for rare, obsolete technology (old cars for example). If it floats their boat and charity benefits then do we really want to call them names and look down on them?

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Re: Did the Reg really ...

I think they're just of the opinion that an apple I that won't be useful in any way and may not actually work at this point isn't worth the money. That's not the same as saying there's something wrong with the auction. Frankly, although I'm interested in old computers and wouldn't mind physically owning some of the more famous models to play around with the hardware, I would not pay very much at all for them. Also, I'd probably get bored rather quickly and then seek to get rid of them again because they're useless for real computing and probably a lot heavier than I, who grew up in laptop era, would assume.

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Re: Did the Reg really ...

"It’s not something I’d want to buy myself, but there are plenty of folks out there who are prepared to pay vast amounts of money for rare, obsolete technology"

True, and I don't see El Reg slagging off the idea of doing so - the first part of the article regarding the Apple I just gives a nice rundown of what the device is and why it's significant. It's only when it gets to the part about spending $10k on a crappy 3 year old watch that no-one wanted even when it was brand new that it starts getting a little snarky, and with rather good cause really.

It's also worth bearing in mind that there's nothing particularly charitable about a "charity" auction. If you want to support a charity and have the money to do so, you can simply do so. Refusing to give money to charity until given the opportunity to acquire valuable goods in return for your payment is not, in fact, charity at all.

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Re: charity

"there’s no unselfish good deeds"

-- Joey Tribianni

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Mac?

Why would mac fans care?

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Re: Mac?

Exactly. This is no Mac.

Anyway, there are people who make reproduction boards and these can be bought for a thousand dollars. If you really want an Apple I, buy one of those.

And if you are a Steve Jobs' devotee, then remember that he tried to have all Apple I boards destroyed once the Apple II board came out.

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Anonymous Coward

"That's right, for just $10,000 you can get your hands on an equally unusable piece of technology but one that is much more modern: a first-generation Apple Watch Edition."

The gold-cased Apple watch is $17,000 of obsolescent hardware.

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I wonder how much I could get for my historically significant PS3?

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@onefang

I'll bid on the blueray drive and connected ribbon cable... I just got a PS3 for €20 and the blueray drive and\or ribbon cable has seen better days.

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DJV
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Looks in wallet...

...damn, only $599,900 short...

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Just report the news...

without snide comments about fanboys, etc.

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Pint

At $500k+ each, we can make these...

2019 update: "Only 200 Apple Is were originally made, ...and of them only about 26,500 are known to exist."

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To be fair...

I'm definitely no fan of Apple and its revisionist interpretation of history, and especially the frequent claims that it somehow "started the computer revolution" despite only ever launching products that already existed, albeit sometimes improving upon them (although neither the Apple I nor II were demonstrably better than the competition). But to be fair, the Lisa wasn't so much "horribly wrong" (although it was buggy) as simply "horribly priced" at around £8,000, or about £25,000 in today's money

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Re: To be fair...

Of the trinity of 1977, the PET and TRS-80 are silent monochrome character-mapped devices which produce sparkles/snow if the programmer doesn't specifically avoid writing graphics during the active part of a frame, and the Apple II is a bitmapped device with a transparently-shared bus, some colour support and a toggle speaker.

That device was demonstrably better — the demonstration would be drawing some graphics or making a tone.

It was overtaken and undercut but I'd dispute that it wasn't better than its contemporaries.

Rule of thumb: if Woz was involved, the product was probably the best at something.

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Re: To be fair...

The consensus in the UK PC press (PC World etc) In The Day was that the Apple II had gorgeous color that no other machine could equal, but most other machines were better at sums.

Since I only ever got my hands on an Apple II in the early 1990s I couldn't comment.

The one I got was originally used to run the national convention business of a large US comic book business, so it can't have been too shabby.

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Correct! The Lisa was a resounding success - not commercially, it was way too dear and too limited to ever sell well, but it was the pioneer which made the whole Mac thing possible. It will go down in history as one of the world's great computers. In its day, it was a truly amazing technical achievement. (Personally, I have always disliked Macs, and can't stand Apple the company. But fair is fair. No-one who knows anything about the computers of the era would diss te Lisa.)

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Anonymous Coward

As the owner of (yes) an Apple I (car boot sale in Boise!) and a Lisa I heartily concur :-) Their curren keyboard are still shit though!

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Innovation?

Several comments above say that the early Apples were nothing new, they simply did much the same sorts of things that many others were doing at around about the same time. Well yes. And no.

At the time, there were four main streams in the microcomputer revolution, and three main companies. NOT in order of importance, they were:

* Tandy (Major manufacturer of quality kit.) Yes, they really were ... at that time. Not later.

* Commodore (Major manufacturer of quality kit.) Yes, they really were ... at that time. Not later. This was long before the Commodore 64, remember, it was when Commodore's real name was Commodore Business Machines, and no misnomer.

* A whole constellaton of CPM machines made by many different companies.

* Apple (Major manufacturer of quality kit.)

Tandy and Commodore both sold (by the standards of the day) truck loads of pretty decent and very popular computers; both used proprietary operating systems and peripherals. Tandy lost its way and faded out. Commodore morphed, a few years later, into a gigantic manufacturer of one single home computer (the Commodore 64) and then couldn't figure out what to do next. (Amiga came much later. Different topic.)

The many different CPM machines had one thing in common: they all ran (at least in theory) the same software. This was a *huge* advance. Yes, there had been attempts at this before, but it was CPM which actually worked, CPM which saw a vast and productive boom in application software, CPM which launched computing as we know it. (Many people ascribe this revolution to the PC and DOS. Wrong. CPM did it first, and ruled supreme for a long time, in very much the way that DOS would do a few years later. Most people seem to have forgotten this.)

The Apple II ran closed proprietary software just like Tandy and Commodore. However, unlike those two, and unlike most CPM systems, the Apple II had open hardware. This was another revolution. Yes, there had been attempts at it before, notably the S100 Bus. But Apple's attempt was far, far more successful than anything which had come before. Within a year or so, you could buy a card to do practically *anything* and plug it into your Apple II. Cards for every purpose, from printing to display to fancy graphics to numerical computation to industrial machinery control, you name it. This was Apple's truly great achievement.

CPM brought open software to the world. Apple brought open hardware. Neither one invented the ideas, but they each made them work in a way they never had before. (Curiously enough, the single best-selling CPM computer in the world was ... wait for it ... the Apple II - using (of course) a plug-in Z-80 CPM card.)

Later came the two great ironies. CPM was swamped by DOS (amid murky and illegal doings we need not get sidetracked into considereing here) and DOS continued the CPM open software tradition, bigger and better than ever. And Apple's open hardware was swamped by the PC. (And also by the very lack-lustre Apple III.) The second great irony was that Apple, having taken the world by storm on the back of their famous open hardware revolution, reversed spectacularly and became possibly the most closed and retentive walled-garden computer company of them all. But that too was later.

Two things made the PC/DOS combination into the greatest force computing has ever seen: open software and open hardware. Both were old ideas. One was pioneered by Apple, the other by CPM.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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Re: Innovation?

"* A whole constellaton of CPM machines made by many different companies."

Including the first company I worked for, made a machine built for the tropics, using CP/M and S-100 bus.

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Re: Innovation?

"amid murky and illegal doings"

Not according to Gary. In his mind there was nothing illegal or murky at all ... what happened was merely an artifact of the times.

86-DOS wasn't a port of CP/M. It was a re-write that used the same API. Gary told me several years later that he didn't think it was a direct rip-off, just an unauthorized use of the published API. Back then, such use wasn't codified into law, wasn't illegal, and in fact it was completely normal. SCP was legally allowed to do what they did, and MS was legally allowed to purchase it and re-license it to a third party. Just as MS did later with AT&T Version 7 UNIX, which MS distributed as Xenix.

Trying to vilify somebody for actions back then based on today's law (or even worse, perceptions!) just makes you look silly. Stop it.

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Bah!

"Obsolescent"?

What is wrong with "Obsolete"?

Is Kieren McCarthy charging by the consonant?

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Re: Bah!

Two different words meaning two different things. Look it up.

http://grammarist.com/usage/obsolescent-obsolete/

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Re: Bah!

Are you saying that the Applewoch Mk 1 is not obsolete?

And fyi I did look 'em both up before posting. Not enough difference in this context to make a difference.

Unless you are upping your wc -c return value of course.

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On the plus side...

iFixit gives the Apple ! 11 points out of 10 for repairability.

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Re: On the plus side...

That's reassuring, given the replacement cost.

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The thing that strikes me most about the early Apples is their huge PCB acreage. At the same time the same amount of electronics was being put on Eurocard-sized PCBs less than a quarter of the size of an Apple PCB.

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