The first Apple Computer leads 'On the Shoulders of Giants: Making the Modern World' at Christie's online

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The first Apple Computer leads 'On the Shoulders of Giants: Making the Modern World' at Christie's online
Apple I computer. Estimate: £300,000-500,000 | US$400,000-650,000 | €350,000-580,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.



LONDON.- Christie’s will present collectors the opportunity to acquire a rare Apple-1 computer, the first personal computer ever made, during its online auction On the Shoulders of Giants: Making the Modern World, open for bidding between 16 and 24 May 2019. Produced in 1976 and still in working condition, this legendary item is known to have launched Apple Computer, the perennially pioneering company that defined and redefined its industry while changing the lives of its millions of customers. Number 10 on the online Apple-1 Registry and accompanied by a group of Apple related artefacts, including the first manual ever issued, the lot is estimated between £300,000 – £500,000. Fifteen examples are extant in public collections, including in the Smithsonian Museum of Art, and in twelve other museums of technology or science worldwide. A recent example at auction includes one sold in First Bytes, a Christie’s online sale ($387,750; 24 June - 9 July 2013) – the present lot continues Christie’s history of offering the most significant historical lots to an international audience online. Destined to appeal to distinguished collectors and technology enthusiasts, this is an opportunity to collect what is perhaps one of the most pioneering digital innovations of our time.

Following the remarkable results achieved in December 2018, when the inaugural auction On the Shoulders of Giants realised £1,824,375, largely thanks to a collection from the estate of Stephen Hawking which was 100% sold, we are pleased to present part II of this sale concept. On the Shoulders of Giants: Making the Modern World pays tribute to the brilliant minds whose discoveries have shaped our understanding of the universe and revolutionised our world. The sale is inspired by Isaac Newton’s famous reflection, that ‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants’. Through letters, manuscripts, printed editions, it traces a path from Newton and Charles Darwin to some of the great 20th century theoretical physicists, including Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking. The sale also has a special emphasis on the history of computing, from the ‘Analytical Machine’ of Charles Babbage via the crucial theoretical insights of Alan Turing and culminating in the Apple 1 computer.

A BIT MORE HISTORY…
What began as the attempt by two techie friends to design and build a microprocessor became the first personal computer and launched a pioneering company that would become the world’s largest corporation.

After introducing their new creation to a small group of like-minded friends at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were able to secure an order for 50 computers from Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop, a small local retail outlet. The Apple-1 systems were sold without casing, power supply, keyboard or monitor, but offered a pre-assembled motherboard, something that put Apple far ahead of its competitors. After securing that initial order, Jobs and Wozniak scrambled to find cash for the necessary parts, selling personal property (a VW van and HP-65 calculator, respectively) to finance the operation. Working furiously from the Jobs household, spread out through the garage, living room and even a bedroom, the young men and their friends and families built the motherboards by hand to fulfil the Byte Shop order, and made an additional small quantity to be sold directly to friends and members of the Homebrew Computer Club. Approximately 200 Apple-1s were built, but only 80 of those still exist, as recorded in Achim Baqué & Mike Willegal’s online Apple-1 Registry.

This example comes with the extremely rare first manual issued by the Apple computer company. Although not credited in the text, Ronald Wayne is well known to be its author. The elder-statesmen of the Jobs-Wozniak-Wayne trio, Wayne drew the first Apple logo that appears on the cover of this pamphlet, drafted their partnership agreement, and wrote the present manual. His original logo symbolically connected the nascent Apple Computer Company to important scientific precedent: Sir Isaac Newton sits beneath an apple tree writing on several loose sheets, the glowing apple of inspiration above him, as if about to fall and spring forth innovation. Wayne also incorporated into his design Wordsworth's homage to Newton from The Prelude: "A Mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone." The backward-looking style of the logo, blending the Enlightenment's ideal of science and the Romantic's ideal of expression, could not conceal the overwhelmingly modern import of the simple text it announced.

Originally priced at $666.66, Steve Jobs advertised the Apple-1 as “[a] truly complete microcomputer system on a single PC board... an extremely powerful computer system that can be used for anything from developing programs to playing games or running BASIC. […] Since the Apple comes fully assembled, tested & burned-in and has a complete power supply onboard, initial set-up is essentially ‘hassle-free’ and you can be running within minutes”.

Jobs and Wozniak officially discontinued the Apple-1 in October 1977, offering discounts and trade-ins to encourage all Apple-1 owners to return their machines. These were destroyed, and few Apple-1s survived, fewer yet in working order or in private hands.










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