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Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 03:06 pm PT (06:06 pm ET)

Working Apple I nets record-smashing $640,000 at German auction

A working example of Apple's first computer was sold by German auction house Team Breker in November for $640,000, breaking the previous Apple I record selling price of $374,500 set by Sotheby's in June.



As noted by Classic Computing, the German sale nearly doubled the similar Apple I auction held by Sotheby's in New York, and is the second such high-profile sale for the legacy computer seen in the last two months. Prior to the record-breaking November deal, Christie's put a non-working Apple I motherboard on the block in the UK, but bids failed to surpass the £50,000 reserve price.

As Apple continues to expand its share of the consumer market, the company's first products have become more collectible and are fetching increasingly large sums at auction. In June, a functioning version of the 1976 Apple I motherboard sold for $374,500, beating its estimated sales price of $120,000 to $180,000. Also included in that auction was an unrelated note written by Apple cofounder Steve Jobs during his time at Atari. The handwritten letter sold for $27,500.

Classic Computing sat down with avid collector Lonnie Mimms, who has two Apple I units amongst his many machines, one a non-working example with all-original parts and a second working model with replaced components.

"The Apple 1, because of Apple's status now in the world, is the beginning of that company," Mimms explained. "For corporate America and for the computer industry, there isn't anything more iconic than that in existence."

The most recent sales follow one of the first high-profile Apple I auctions, which managed to net $174,000 in 2010.

Only 200 Apple I computers were made, each hand-built by Steve Wozniak, and only six of the estimated 50 intact examples are believed to be in working condition. When the product was first released in 1976, it sold for $666.66 without power supply, display, keyboard or housing.