A Motherboard from an Apple-1 Computer.
This Famous Antique Game - May 2016
By Mike McLeod
The traditional age connoted with the word antique does not apply in the world of computers today. A decade or even less can make a computer, peripheries or games antique or vintage—although those words are rarely attributed to collectibles in this field. A computer from the 1990s is definitely considered an antique.
An original 1976 Apple 1 motherboard.
An Apple-1 in the Smithsonian.
(Photo: Ed Uthman)
This motherboard truly is an antique, the first of its kind, a true dinosaur in the computer world. This is the motherboard from an Apple-1 computer. It sold at Bonhams in 2014 for $905,000 (with buyer’s premium) and included the power supply, keyboard and monitor. Others have sold for less. In 2010, an Apple-1 computer motherboard sold for $212,267 at Christie’s, and in 2012, one sold at Sotheby’s for $374,500.
This $905,000 motherboard is from the batch of the first 50 Apple-1 computers built by Steve Wozniak and sold by Steve Jobs and Wozniak to the Byte Shop. The shop retailed them for $666.66 each.
The first owner of this Apple-1’s motherboard was John Barkley Anderson, and in true collector form, he recognized the historical importance of it when he bought it. Anderson stored it away, and it was safely packaged and preserved since 1989. It came with only four kilobytes of memory that could be expanded to eight or 48 KB with expansion cards—so he might as well as stored it. It was often used for playing the rudimentary games of the day. As Bonhams’ described it: “The Apple-1 computer is the first pre-assembled personal computer to come to market, heralding the dawn of the personal computer revolution.”1
To put this in perspective for us non-computer collectors:
*The highest price paid for an Ansel Adams photograph, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, was $722,500 (including buyer’s premium) in 2010 at Sotheby’s;
*Actor David Spade paid $900,000 for a restored 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona at Mecum Auctions in 2015;
*The baseball Babe Ruth autographed to the ailing Johnny Sylvester—promising to hit a home run for him in a 1926 World Series game and signed, “I’ll knock a homer for Wednesday’s game” (Ruth hit three in that game)—sold for $250,641 at Grey Flannel Auctions in 20142; and
* Harrison Ford’s autographed Han Solo leather jacket from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016) sold for $191,000 in a charity auction for FACE (Finding a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures).
So you see, a working motherboard from an Apple-1 computer is a big deal to computer collectors. Of the 63 Apple-1 computers known to exist, most do not work. The motherboard was powered up on this one to show it still functioned properly.
Antique video games are also growing in values. The list and values below were compiled by BusinessInsider.com:
Gamma Attack: $20,000-$50,000; Birthday Mania: $15,000-$35,000; Nintendo World Championships, Gold Edition: $15,000-$21,000; Nintendo Campus Challenge: $14,000-$20,100; Air Raid: $14,000-$33,400; Red Sea Crossing: $10,400-$14,000;
Kizuna Encounter: $5,400-$13,500; Atlantis II: $5,000-$18,000; Ultimate 11/Super Sidekicks 4: $4,800-$10,000; King of Fighters 2000: $3,540-$6,000.
In 2010, a copy of Air Raid for the Atari 2600 that was found a garage sold on eBay for $31,600. It was reported to be the 13th known copy in existence.4
As always, the value of any collectible or antique is what someone is willing to pay for it.
Scott and Carolyn Brown of Montgomery, Ala., Julie Kimbrell of The Old School Antique Mall in Sylva, N.C., Hugh Wilkerson, and Ted Carlton of Utah correctly identified this antique.
1 Bonhams.com, History of Science Auction, October 20, 2014.
2 ESPN.com, “Babe Ruth-signed ball sold at auction,” by Darren Rovell, Feb 7, 2014
3 Businessinsider.com, “Ranked: The Rarest, Most Expensive Video Games In The World,” by Steven Tweedie, June 27, 2014.
4 Mentalfloss.com, “10 Very Rare (and Very Expensive) Video Games,” by Rod Lammle.
Credits: Wikipedia.org and Applemuseum.bott.org