Apple I at the SmithsonianIt is true: People will pony up remarkable amounts of money for Apple’s products.

This is evident by the lines of pundits that snake around Apple Stores the world over whenever a new, sleek Apple product hits the shelves. But yesterday an Italian businessman and collector by the name of Marco Boglione took it to the next level by shelling out some serious cash at the famous Christie’s auction house in London for one of the very first Apple personal computers ever made, the Apple I. Boglione acquired the computer at a price tag of £133,250, or roughly $210,000. Original price? $666.66.

The computer, which is one of only 200 models ever produced, was originally built and marketed by Steves Jobs and Wozniak in 1976. When the Apple I was introduced, the computer had a fully assembled motherboard and was ready to use from the box – provided the user had a keyboard, a power supply and a display.

Boglione, the president of a holding company that owns European clothing line trademarks, is said to have the Apple I restored to working condition before adding it to his collection of Apple computers. The computer was auctioned in its original box, containing the motherboard, various components such as a microprocessor and extra RAM, and a sales letter signed by Steve Jobs. Steve Wozniak was present at the auction and also added an autographed letter to the lot.

The Apple I was officially discontinued in October 1977. Only about 50 Apple I computers still survive, and while rare, the remaining models are usually sold for much less, in the $15,000-$50,000 range, which might make this the most expensive Apple I ever. Boglione’s extraordinarily high price has probably more to do with the original documents – the return label has Jobs’ parents’ address, as Apple Computer, Inc. was set up in their garage – than the actual computer. Which kind of makes sense, too, since the Apple I has one-thousandth of the computing power of the iPad.

Photo: Apple I at the Smithsonian. Photo credit euthman.

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