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My discovery of a 1976 Apple computer in a storage auction and how it may have been Steve Jobs 1st sale of an Apple to an individual.

"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.

Interview on Bloomberg TV...click image to watch it.
Interview on Bloomberg TV...click image to watch it.

Apple and Apple Computer are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

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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.

FAQ

  • I'm still doing final editing of the manuscript. It's currently at about 124,000 words. I hope to slim it down so that it has 'two-hundred-something' pages.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    50 backers

    ONE E-BOOK: You'll get one digital copy of the book, BEFORE it hits the bookstores and the webstores.

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    11 backers Limited (14 left of 25)

    ONE E-BOOK, AND WE WILL MAIL YOU A BOOKPLATE: You'll get one digital copy of the book before it hits the bookstores and the webstores. And, we will mail you our bookplate with art by Apple co-founder Ron Wayne. This bookplate is not autographed or framed, it will just be separately mailed to you in a plain old white envelope. (because we can't figure out how to include it as part of an ebook delivery!).

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    17 backers All gone!

    A SOFTCOVER BOOK WITH A BOOKPLATE: You'll get a softcover copy of the book before it hits bookstores. Included with the book will be a bookplate with art by Apple co-founder Ron Wayne. The bookplate is not autographed or framed, it will just be inserted in your book! (but it's downright cool). Shipping in the continental U.S. is included.

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    30 backers Limited (10 left of 40)

    A HARDBACK BOOK WITH A BOOKPLATE: With this package, your book will be autographed by the author (me!), but admittedly it would be better if it were signed by a famous author (not me). This book comes with a book plate, inserted in the darn book! The bookplate has art by Apple co-founder Ron Wayne, but it is not autographed or framed. So there! Shipping in the continental U.S. is included.

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    36 backers Limited (14 left of 50)

    A HARDBACK BOOK WITH A RON WAYNE AUTOGRAPHED BOOKPLATE: You get a hardback book, and you get a bookplate that is autographed by Apple co-founder Ron Wayne. There is a limited number of these because Ron is 79 years old and he can only sign so many! So far, he's actually signed about 430, so we're gettin there. Yes, the bookplate is done before the book, and that's because not everything in life gets done in logical order, so just get over it, please! With this package, you get a hardback book signed by the author, and the bookplate with Ron's art, the bookplate is NOT framed, AND the bookplate is actually signed, autographed, by Ron. Shipping in the continental U.S. is included.

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    HARDBACK BOOK AND FRAMED, AUTOGRAPHED PHOTO: This is an awesome package. You get a hardback book signed by the author. And you get a framed photograph, picturing an original Apple-1 board and the cover of the Apple-1 manual, which Ron Wayne drew the original artwork for. And, the photo is autographed by Ron, in a prominent signature. This photo is big! Its an 8 by 12 inch photo and comes in a nice frame. What a gift this would make! This is a limited edition, because I can only get Ron to sign so many. (The frame will be nice, but the one shown in the video is only a sample, and the final frame may differ in appearance.) Shipping in the continental U.S. is included.

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