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Ultra rare Apple-1 computer could fetch up to $1M in auction

Auction website CharityBuzz on Thursday announced the upcoming sale of an extremely rare Apple-1 computer dubbed "Celebration," so named because it is the only known unit still in existence to feature a pre-production circuit board.

Commenting on the unit's significance, computer historian and vintage Apple hardware specialist Corey Cohen notes the "Celebration" sports different sockets and components from those seen on production Apple-1 models. The variations suggest the board up for auction started out as a blank, possibly a one-of-a-kind factory sample, making it a highly desirable collector's item.

As the unit does not appear to be part of Apple's original run of 200 assembled Apple-1 computers — 175 of which were sold — the accompanying record of ownership is not complete, though the original owner is believed to be a former Apple employee who sold the machine in 2000. Each Apple-1 was hand built by company cofounder Steve Wozniak in Steve Jobs' garage in Los Altos, Calif. When the product was first released in 1976, it sold for $666.66 without power supply, display, keyboard or housing.

Along with the unique PCB made in 1976, the Celebration Apple-1 comes with its original ACI cassette board, an early Apple-1 BASIC cassette, non-functioning power supply and documentation. Cohen says the operations manual with schematics, Apple-1 BASIC manual, Apple-1 Cassette Adapter manual, schematics and marketing materials makes up the "most complete" set of documentation to accompany currently known Apple-1 boards.

Due to its rarity, the machine was not restored and does not function. Based on a 10-point scale that rates the condition of an Apple-1 model auctioned off to Henry Ford organization in 2014 as a 9.5, the "Celebration" package comes in at 6.5. Despite a less than perfect preservation score, the board's pedigree is expected to draw bids in the $1 million range, CharityBuzz says.

The month-long auction period kicks off on Monday, July 25, with an end date of Aug. 25. Ten percent of proceeds raised will go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for LLS research, patient services, advocacy and other services. Prior to sale, the "Celebration" Apple-1 will make a public appearance at this year's Vintage Computer Festival West at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., on Aug. 6 and Aug. 7.