Apple-1 sells for $737k at auction

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fingerz's picture
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Joined: Aug 10 2017 - 13:40
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Apple-1 sells for $737k at auction

This was one of the higher prices in recent years...any thoughts on where the market is and where it's headed? Do I need to increase the insured value of my board (it's insured for A LOT less than $700k)?

Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Mar 31 2020 - 19:55
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I nsure for not less than US

I nsure for not less than US$2M.


The trend is absurd. I remember when you could buy one for £200, around 1995. I may one day build a clone, but I frankly do not know what I would do with it that a Brainboard doesn't cover. I suppose it would just be to hand build one for fun, but it is a nightmare process. 

Last seen: 2 hours 29 min ago
Joined: Apr 1 2020 - 16:46
Posts: 794
Ridicolous "prices" and no "nightmare"
Timelord wrote:

I nsure for not less than US$2M.


The trend is absurd. I remember when you could buy one for £200, around 1995. I may one day build a clone, but I frankly do not know what I would do with it that a Brainboard doesn't cover. I suppose it would just be to hand build one for fun, but it is a nightmare process. 


Uncle Bernie's response:


Building an Apple-1 clone once was a nightmare, because most of them did not work reliably, due to the inherent quirks.

Many such build attempts ended as nonfunctional wall-hangers, which is a pity because of the waste of rare and precious ICs, such as the elusive Signetics 2504, 2513, 2519.

But nowadays, we know how to make them work robustly. This was the work of many investigators, which all published partial remedies, or very elaborate ones, but I claim to have perfected a minimum set of reliability mods which always leads to an Apple-1 that runs rock-solid:    


See post #4 of that thread. I also claim I have found the very last missing piece which eluded and frustrated Apple-1 builders since the very beginning. Adding six little resistors fixes this problem, too. There story is here:


So, overall, the Apple-1 was not a bad design. Its basic digital design is sound and quite robust. All the problems came from the terrible PCB layout and the lack of sufficient power supply bypass capacitors. We can't fix the layout if we want to preserve the authentic looks, but we can add all the components that make it work perfectly: 24 capacitors, and 6 resistors.

Nowadays, even the PCBs are easily available for anyone at a cheap price, since the Open Source Gerbers became available recently:


But beware of the price gougers who try to sell these cheap boards made by JLCPCB in China for $100 or so on Ebay. Do not pay more than $50 for a complete set of these JLCPCB made PCBs, the Apple-1 motherboard and the ACI daughtercard.

If you really want to pay more than $100, go for the better quality Newton PCBs which have the correct gold plated edge connector,  among many other little details. Or wait until MIMEO boards made in the USA become available again.


The only problem contemporary Apple-1 builders may still face at the time of this writing are issues with the 40+ years old ICs. Some of them just don't work, or they are limping wounded, and so the Apple-1 does not work properly even if all the reliability mods have been applied. Diagnosing these problems can be daunting. I made a diagnostic PROM set for my own use which can greatly help to debug Apple-1 builds, but so far not enough interest seen to justify the effort to write a good manual for it. A glimpse of these Diagnostic tools can be seen here:


I'm currently also running an experiment on Ebay selling 100% tested and burned-in IC sets for Apple-1 builders, which theoretically (and this is what my experiment should prove) enables any Apple-1 builder who can do a decent solder job to successfully build an Apple-1 that works robustly and fault free upon first power-up. No "nightmares" anymore.


The only still missing fix is to get the non-standard Apple-1 video signal to conform better to the NTSC/PAL standard signal: shortening the excessively long HSYNC and adding a serrated VSYNC to keep all monitors and TV sets happy. This fix is already running in my lab and will be published soon, here on Applefritter. As with all of my fixes of the Apple-1, it does not involve cutting any PCB traces, just adding a few components, which later could be removed without leaving a trace. So in theory, these fixes could also be applied to original Apple-1 to make them work better.


As to the astounding prices for Apple-1 originals seen in some auctions, keep in mind that there are very, very rich people out there for whom writing a $1 million check is chump change.  If these people want something, they just buy it, regardless of price. This is the same mindset which makes them buy weird objects of "Art", such as the famous artist's poop smeared on a white canvas, decorated with dead rabbit fur, for many millions (tongue in cheek, but you know what I mean). Or crappy so-called collectible "supersportscars" which actually are a terrible (and sometimes terrifying) driving experience. How do I know ? I had some of those. All sold. Did not have the nerves anymore to drive them. Sure, they may give the driver a sort of brutish driving experience, and a mix of sensations none of the more modern cars can ever give, especially if you run them at 100 mph+ on curvy highways (illegal) or at 160 mph+ on the German Autobahn (perfectly legal) , but the fun is over when you come out of a forest into the open fields and some crosswind will make the 1960s vintage "supersportscar" take off like an airplane upon "rotation". Since two wheels are still on the road / runway,  you can save the situation - and your life - by cutting power. But is this experience worth the money you paid for this deathtrap ? Naaaah ...


I think with the original Apple-1, the psychological background may be the same as with these other toys for the wealthy. In my opinion, the Apple-1 is the Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada of early microcomputers. Exceedingly rare, super expensive to buy, and almost useless for actual driving / programming.


But for sure, having one (or more) of the Apple-1 clones and toying around with it, modifying it, and building yet another one, and another one, and another one, can be fun and a nice pastime. I now have five and soon get more  "offspring". I can't explain why. This is part of the magic of the Apple-1. I don't think that any "substitute" based on more modern ICs has that magic, despite the programming model may be the same.


Happy Apple-1 building !





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