"The astronomical run-up in the price of the original Apple-1 machines - made in 1976 and priced at $666.66 - is a story of the economics of scarcity and techno-fetishism, magnified by the mystique surrounding Apple and its founders...." Steve Lohr, New York Times 5-24-13
After I purchased the 1976 Apple-1 computer at the self-storage auction, I started to look into its history. The most logical source of info was the previous owner, but that was complicated. He had sold his tech company for one hundred million dollars, during the tech boom. For some reason, he had stop making payments on his private jet, fled the country for Venezuela, and abandoned his young family here in Virginia. As I was just starting to try and contact him, I found he had died, at age 50. I would have to look elsewhere for the story of my computer.
I knew it had been sold from the garage of Steve Jobs in July of 1976, because I had the buyer's cancelled check... made out to Apple. This was important to know, because the first big sale by Apple was to the fledgling Byte Shop computer store chain. My computer had been purchased directly from Jobs, and based on the buyers address on the check, he lived four miles from Jobs. So I started to try and contact the earliest employees of Apple, those who had worked in the garage. "Do you remember Charles Ricketts, the original purchaser?" So few were sold directly, I figured someone would remember him.
The only other history I knew was from a Wired magazine article, from 1999. It told the story of how the Ricketts family had consigned the computer to an auction in San Francisco, and how it sold at auction to Owen O'Mahoney. When I eventually tracked down Owen, he said that not only did he not buy it, but he wasn't even sure if he could spell 'Apple'. The mystery now became...who bought it, why was a story fabricated, and did the Ricketts family actually consign it? Solving that mystery was exciting and is detailed in the book. And much of it relates back to the question, was this computer the first Apple that Steve Jobs sold to an individual from his garage?
Only 200 examples of the Apple-1 computers were sold, and today 46 are known to survive. In the last few years, rare and original Apple-1 computers have become highly sought after by collectors. The most recent sale at public auction was for $640,000 in November of last year.
Writing the book included interviewing high school and college friends of Jobs and Wozniak, the earliest employees, and the collectors of Apple-1's from the earliest days to present day.
Apple co-founder Ron Wayne has worked with me on his part of the story of the beginning of Apple and his time with Jobs. And he has designed the bookplate, to commemorate the moment of the birth of the original Apple partnership. I did have those printed and Ron has already signed some of them, along with some photos. He's 79 years old, so although he seems to be in fine health, I wanted to make sure that we could deliver on that part of the project, so his signatures are partially completed.
The story is written and is in final edits. I still need to finish details including a cover and footnotes and formatting it for print and ebook. Like any project, it has turned out to take more time and money then was anticipated. Your commitment to buy copies will help me finish the book and have a large enough order to get reasonable pricing on the printing, and to be able to afford a good quality of books.
Apple and Apple Computer are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.
Risks and challenges
Since the book is written, we know it just needs the editing completed. I have carefully calculated all of the costs of printing and shipping, so that I can fullfill any level of volume commitment. Since some of our packages also include framed bookplates or framed large photos, I have also carefully calculated the boxing and shipping. I'm confident that Ron can finish autographing enough bookplates and photos to satisfy whatever quantity is requested here.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)