Antique Apple-1 computer lands on eBay today

Part of sale's proceeds to go to ALS Association, which raises money for research on Lou Gehrig's Disease

A collector will sell a rare Apple-1 personal computer on eBay this week, with 10% of the proceeds going to the ALS Association, a non-profit that raises money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called "Lou Gehrig's Disease."

Bob Luther, who sold a different Apple-1 through Christie's late last year for $365,000, will post the vintage computer on eBay at 4 p.m. PT Monday. Luther will donate 10% of that sale to the ALS Association, and either 50% or 100% of several other Apple-related items that will also be listed on the online auction site today.

Among the other items will be a copy of the 1976 partnership agreement signed by Apple Computers co-founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and the lesser-known Ron Wayne, who bowed out of the company shortly after its founding.

"This is a really good Apple-1," said Luther in an interview. "It has great provenance, having been owned by one family from 1976 to 2012, when I acquired it. And it has a low number on it, No. 22."

Most believe that the numbers penned on some of the original Apple-1 computers indicate stock sold by the Byte Shop, the iconic the Mountain View, Calif. computer store that ordered the first batch of computers from Jobs and Wozniak.

Luther's Apple-1 is in working condition, and includes a rare cassette interface, which connected to a cassette tape recorder for storing programs on tape.

The Apple-1 was the first pre-assembled personal computer -- essentially a stand-alone circuit board, it lacked amenities like power supply, keyboard or display, all which the buyer had to provide -- and the first product from the then-tiny Apple Computers. In 1976, the computer sold for $666.66. Approximately 200 were produced overall, with about 60 known survivors.

Luther purchased the Apple-1 from the family of Joey Copson, a Palo Alto resident who bought it in 1976 from the Byte Shop. Copson, who had returned from a four-year tour in Vietnam with the U.S. Army two years earlier, ended up working for several notable technology firms, including Apple, Atari and Commodore.

At Atari, Copson worked on video game titles such as Star Raiders. Copson died of cancer in 2003.

Luther had interviewed Copson's brother, Bill, for the book he published in 2013, The First Apple, a recounting of the years he spent investigating the history of the Apple-1 he sold last year. Bill Copson had found Joey's Apple-1 in a closet at his mother's house after she passed away.

"If he'd have lived until he was 90, he probably never would've sold it," Bill Copson told Luther of his brother's determination to hold onto the piece of computer history.

Apple-1 computers have sold for as much as $905,000, that record amount paid by The Henry Ford in October 2014. Other Apple-1s have sold for more than $600,000.

But the highest price paid for a piece of Apple memorabilia was the original founding contract drawn up by Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne, which sold for $1.6 million in 2011. Wayne was recruited by Jobs to convince Wozniak to launch the partnership. For his part, Wayne was offered a 10% share in the new company. Wayne relinquished his part of the deal just days later, receiving $800 for his shares.

The copy Luther will list on eBay is a contemporary copy of the one Wayne typed up on April 1, 1976. It was autographed by both Wozniak and Wayne last year when they met for the first time since Jobs' death in 2011.

Proceeds from that contract, other items -- including a very early Apple II computer -- and one-tenth of the selling price of the Apple-1 will be given to the ALS Association. A long-time employee of Luther's Internet services business has the disease.

eBay will promote the Apple-1 auction by adding it to its homepage carousel, Luther said. There will be no reserve set for the Apple-1.

Vintage Apple-1 Bob Luther

This vintage Apple-1 will go up for bids on eBay this week, with some of the proceeds to be donated to the ALS Association. (Image: Bob Luther.)


Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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