2:19pm

Tue November 23, 2010
The Two-Way

'Ancient' Apple 1 Sells For $213,000

Somebody paid a little more than $200,000 today for a computer that's basically "a very fancy calculator," Gizmodo reporter Brian Barrett told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly earlier today.

Of course, it was also an original Apple 1. That's a now-rare 1976 model that at the time it was built, as the Associated Press says, "was the only personal computer to come with a fully assembled motherboard, making it ready to use straight from the box -- provided the user supplied a keyboard, power supply, and display."

It was sold this afternoon in London at Christie's auction house. Barrett says the buyer (Italian businessman and private collector Marco Boglione) is getting a "richly historical device."

"And if you have 213-some-thousand-dollars to spend on something and you're a fan of computer history, this is pretty much as good as it gets in terms of getting a core bit of that legacy," Barrett told Mary Louise.

Here's a bit of what Barrett had to say:

The Mac Observer says Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was on hand for the sale. The machine, according to The Wall Street Journal's TechEurope blog, came with its original packaging and a letter signed by the other half of Apple's dynamic duo, Steve Jobs. Christie's claimed the price is a record for a personal computer sold at auction, TechEurope says.

ComputerWord adds that of the 200 Apple 1 machines built (and sold at the time for $666.66), "only about 50 are still known to exist."

Much more from Mary Louise's conversation with Barrett will be on today's edition of All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we'll add the as-aired version of their discussion to this post. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.