Sold on eBay: New-in-box Apple II, never opened

And then after paying $2,600 for it, the buyer opened the box

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And since it runs just one program at a time, it offers the perfect work environment for those easily distracted by e-mail, iTunes, Facebook and Twitter. "I wish more [modern] applications would offer a minimalist, heads-down, nose-to-the-grindstone mode," said Budiac, who uses a MacBook Pro with a 30-in. Cinema Display for his day-to-day computing.

Budiac's brand-new Apple IIc, above, offers the same slim design as when it was first manufactured 24 years ago. Photo by Kathryn Yu.

Though some Mac fans may admire Budiac and his computer, a far smaller group is likely to still be using an Apple II in the 21st century. But they do exist. A few die-hards have helped the device evolve beyond anything Apple ever intended or imagined. Two programmers in Australia crafted a TCP/IP stack to put the Apple II on the Internet; another enthusiast in England used that tool to create a Web browser and e-mail, FTP and Usenet clients. They and other users gather every July in Missouri for KansasFest, an annual convention that celebrates the past — and future — of the venerable machine.

"The Apple II continues to fascinate people even today," said Tony Diaz, event coordinator for KansasFest and webmaster of online reference site "Many recall their first introduction to computers with the Apple II, as well as its sleek and simple approach and capabilities right out of the box."

The Apple IIc was introduced at a promotional event dubbed Apple II Forever, a sentiment that sits well with Budiac. "I honestly can't see parting with the computer, ever," he said. "Even if I grow bored of reliving the glory days, it's a functioning piece of history, and a beautiful one at that. It's better than anything I'd pick up at an art gallery."

[Editor's note: This story was written on an Apple II.]

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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