Apple I.

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Apple I.
Apple I system board with TV set, cassette recorder, power supply unit and keyboardApple I in a typical do-it-yourself case at the time
Manufacturer Apple computer
Type Home computers
publication April 1976
End of production 1977
Factory price Suggested retail price $ 666.66
processor 6502 @ 1.023 MHz
random access memory KiB expandable to 48 KiB RAM
graphic nv
Sound nv
Disk Compact cassettes
operating system Firmware in ROM, Apple Integer Basic
predecessor -
successor Apple II
Motherboard of the Apple I
Apple I circuit board and wooden case with Woz sign, Computer History Museum.jpg

The Apple I was a personal computer (PC) developed by Steve Wozniak for the US company Apple . As the first device in the world, it was affordable for private households at 666 US dollars and at the same time it was equipped with all the necessary connections to operate it in a modern way via keyboard and monitor (instead of the toggle switches and lights that were customary on the lower computer at the time Price segment). For this reason it is also called the first PC in the world .


In 1975 Wozniak worked for computer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard and realized that the cost of the components had fallen so much that inexpensive home applications should also be possible. In his book Hackers - Heroes of the Computer Revolution , the journalist Steven Levy describes Wozniak as an ingenious computer hacker who managed to develop a particularly inexpensive computer thanks to a clever design and the economical and unusually efficient use of chips. Thanks to the typewriter keyboard and screen (initially in the form of a converted TV set) it was easy to use for the conditions at the time and at the same time affordable for private households and thus available for a completely new market; with the Apple I, the world's first mass-produced PC was created. It was devices like this that triggered what Levy calls the computer revolution in his book .

Developer Steve Wozniak was a prominent member of the Homebrew Computer Club , known as the "melting pot for an entire industry," from which numerous computer companies have sprung. One of the companies is Apple, of which Wozniak is one of the founders in 1976 along with his friend Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne . His computer was developed before the company was founded, but then mass-produced there and sold under the name Apple I. Together with the successor model Apple II , these are the last industrially manufactured computers designed by a single developer.


The Apple I was introduced on April 1, 1976 at a meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club and was a single board computer . It was equipped with a video interface (which was limited to a black and white text mode ), 4  KiBytes of dynamic RAM , a keyboard and the 6502 microprocessor from Rockwell International (a development by MOS Technologies ). The video system was built in a very idiosyncratic way, it used shift registers as screen memory, as these were cheaper then than the same amount of dynamic RAM.

The actual computer was supplied by Apple as a fully assembled circuit board and had to be assembled by the dealer or owner, who also had to buy a power supply unit, keyboard, screen and, optionally, a housing. The only peripheral device was a cassette interface, which, in combination with a conventional cassette recorder, allowed programs to be stored on audio cassettes and then reloaded from them. The Integer BASIC programming language , which was still called Apple BASIC at that time, could only be used with this interface ; because the interpreter had to be loaded from the cassette because it was not yet in the ROM . Without the interface, the computer could only be programmed using a machine language monitor .

The idea of ​​the Apple I was picked up after the computer was presented by the local computer dealer The Byte Shop , who ordered 50 devices from Wozniak and Jobs. These 50 devices had to be delivered fully assembled - that was Byte Shop's condition.

A total of around 200 Apple I's were sold at a unit price of 666.66 US dollars over a period of ten months; then the Apple I was replaced by the Apple II , which became a global success.

Collector's value

Due to the small number of pieces and the popularity of the Apple brand, the Apple I is one of the most sought-after collector's items in the computer sector. There are 70 known specimens recorded by name, although the actual number of pieces is likely to be significantly higher. How many are actually still functional cannot be said, especially since many owners no longer want to use the possibly fragile collector's item for fear of damage. Apple I computers are regularly auctioned for several 100,000 euros in renowned auction houses (2010 at Christie's for approx. 157,000 euros, June 2012 at Sotheby’s for 300,000 euros, November 2012 at Auction Team Breker for almost 500,000 euros and in May 2013 in Cologne for 516,461 euros). In October 2014, the Henry Ford Museum paid $ 905,000 for an Apple I at auction in New York City . On May 20, 2017, the Breker auction house auctioned another, still operational copy of the Apple I including manual, original invoice and proof of origin for 110,000 euros. In the run-up to the auction, the estimated price was between 180,000 and 300,000 euros. According to an IT expert, there are currently only eight functional devices in the world.

Christie's auctioned an Apple-1 for $ 355,500 in June 2016. Charitybuzz in September 2017 for $ 401,000 and Bonhams in December 2017 for $ 372,000.

In May 2015, it became known that a woman from the San Francisco Bay Area had handed in an Apple I along with other electronic waste to a recycling company weeks earlier . After the death of her husband, she had tidied the house and was evidently unsure of the value of the device. The recycling company initially believed it was a replica or a fake, but then sold the real device to a private collector for $ 200,000. The unknown woman was publicly offered to come over and pick up a check for at least half of the proceeds.

Bob Luther, author of The First Apple , describes the device as the “ Holy Grail ” for technology collectors when you consider that of the 200 copies built, the first batch of 50 pieces was created in the garage of Jobs' parents.


A compatible replica of the Apple I, called Replica I , was built by Vince Briel in 2003. Two microcontrollers were used to replace the TTL components , some of which are no longer available. The retail price of the kit is approximately $ 160. Use of the original software was approved by Steve Wozniak.

In 2006 another Apple-I replica was presented, the A-ONE . It is a development by Franz Achatz and San Bergmans, which was recognized as an excellent development at the Circuit Cellar Atmel AVR Contest 2006 in the United States.

Apple-1 in German museums


Web links

Commons : Apple I  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Steven Levy: Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution . Doubleday 1984, ISBN 0-385-19195-2
  2. Boris Grondahl: Hacker . Rotbuch 3000, ISBN 3-434-53506-3
  3. a b c Steve Wozniak : iWoz: How I invented the personal computer and co-founded Apple. Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, 2008, ISBN 978-3-423-34507-1
  4. ^ Harry McCracken: For One Night Only, Silicon Valley's Homebrew Computer Club Reconvenes. In: TIME Magazine. November 12, 2013, accessed on November 12, 2013 : “… the open exchange of ideas that went on at its biweekly meetings did as much as anything to jumpstart the entire personal computing revolution. It was the crucible for an entire industry. "
  5. The dream of the simple computer . In:
  6. Mike Willegal: The Apple 1 Registry. In: June 2015, accessed April 1, 2016 .
  7. Offer at Christie's Lot 65 / Sale 7882 ,, 23 November 2010
  8. ↑ Original computer "Apple I" auctioned for $ 374,000 . In: Spiegel Online
  9. Auction: 500,000 euros for an old Apple . WDR, November 24, 2012, accessed November 26, 2012
  10. 516,461 euros for one of the first Apple PCs . ( Memento from April 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In: , May 25, 2013
  11. a b The most expensive Apple computer of all time. In: Die Welt  - “World” night blog. October 23, 2014, accessed October 23, 2014 .
  12. Original "Apple 1 Computer", 1976. Auction Team Breker, May 25, 2013 (English)
  13. Old “Apple I” auctioned in Cologne for 110,000 euros. In: Neue Ruhr Zeitung. May 20, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017 .
  14. Historical Apple calculator brings only 110,000 euros. In: Spiegel Online . May 20, 2017. Retrieved May 23, 2017 .
  15. Known auctions of Apple-1 computer. Apple-1 Registry, accessed March 22, 2018 .
  16. $ 100,000 check awaits mystery Apple I donor . In:
  17. Ms. disposing of Apple computers worth 180,000 euros . In:
  18. See description in Briel Computers
  19. Circuitcellar ( Memento of March 12, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  21. Gerrit Faust, Head of Press and Public Relations: Ready for Museum Island: The Apple 1. Accessed March 22, 2018 .
  22. Achim Baqué: Apple-1 Registry # 31. Retrieved March 22, 2018 .
  23. Achim Baqué: Apple-1 Registry # 38. In: Register of all Apple-1 computers. Retrieved March 22, 2018 .