bit-tech.net

Christie's First Byte auction generates interest

Christie's First Byte auction generates interest

This early Apple-1, believed to be one of the first 25 made, has already attracted a bid of $300,000 in Christie's First Byte auction.

Auction house Christie's is in the process of conducting an online-only auction of some iconic pieces of 20th century computer history - including an original Apple 1 with signed documentation which is expected to sell for more than $300,000.

Entitled 'First Bytes,' because auctioneers love puns as much as anyone, the auction is being conducted through the company's website rather than in person in order to ensure world-wide interest. Officially opened on the 24th of June and due to run through to the 9th of July, the initial pricing has attracted interest along with a handful of early bids.

With a heavy Apple slant, the auction includes such rarities as a Macintosh SE in translucent plastic casing with an opening bid price of $5,000, an unreleased prototype of a Macintosh Portable laptop at $2,000, a somewhat less unusual Apple //e with external disk drive at a wallet-friendly $300 - which contrasts markedly with the sleeker prototype Apple //c at $5,000, or the prototype Apple //GS at $10,000 - along with a limited-edition Macintosh released as part of the company's twentieth anniversary celebrations at $2,000.

The jewel of the lots, which has been provided to Christie's for sale by an unnamed private collector, is undoubtedly the Apple-1 - a rare example of the very first Apple personal computer, constructed by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs with colleagues in Jobs' parents' garage and sold for $666.66 to attendees of the famous Homebrew Computer Club and local retail outlets.

It was the small-scale success of this machine that drew the interest of Intel's Mike Markkula, who invested $250,000 in the nascent company to help market the machine's successor, the Apple //. The rest, as the saying goes, is history, with Apple sitting pretty as one of the most valuable companies in history.

With only 200 Apple-1 systems produced, Christie's example is already a rarity - but the lack of PCB etching company logo and a date stamp on the processor suggests that it could have been one of the first 25 ever made. The machine, which was purchased by its original owner without the optional case and mounted into a block of wood, comes complete with original operation manual, schematic, and black-and-white photograph of Jobs and Wozniak building the machine - all three of which have been signed 'Woz.'

Christie's clearly has high hopes for the piece, setting initial bids at a whopping $300,000 and offering a guide price of up to $500,000 - on top of which any buyer will need to add a buyer's premium of around 21 per cent, local sales tax and a loss damage liability (LDL) insurance premium, bumping the final price up considerably. This is in contrast to a model sold by the same auction house back in 2010, which had a guide price of £100,000 to £150,000 (around $153,330 to $230,000.)

The only non-Apple item to appear in the auction, aside from some early software for the Apple //, is a prototype Tiger Learning Computer - which, unsurprisingly given the theme of the collection, is based on licensed Apple //e technology despite being produced in 1997.

So far, the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, high-priced Apple-1, Macintosh SE and prototype Macintosh Portable have all received a single early opening bid each and thus will sell, while the Apple // software, Apple //e, prototype Apple //c, prototype Apple //GS, prototype Tiger Learning Computer and an Apple Lisa have yet to receive a bid - the latter of which is priced at an opening bid of $20,000.

If you're feeling flush, the full auction listings are available on Christie's website.

12 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
dactone 27th June 2013, 12:44 Quote
Keeping in line with every other apple product then,''not worth the money''.
kenco_uk 27th June 2013, 13:20 Quote
I wonder if they'll have the clear-shelled Sony Aibo ERS-7? That was utterly stunning when I was one of the first in a lucky group of people to be the first to see it, some years ago now.
miller 27th June 2013, 13:29 Quote
Maybe Apple will buy it and find a way to offset it against tax, Oh wait, they don't pay tax.
Gareth Halfacree 27th June 2013, 14:27 Quote
I'm procrastinating like a... I dunno, something well known for procrastination. Student. Yeah, that'll do. I'm procrastinating like a student here, so have a little stream-of-consciousness calculation I just did by way of bonus content:

Assuming that it's the original owner who is auctioning off the Apple-1, and that it sells for $300,000 with no more bids in the next couple of weeks, the owner will have turned $666.66 into $300,000 - at first glance, a profit of $299,333.34.

However, there's inflation to take into account. Since the Apple-1 launched in 1976, the value of the US dollar has inflated by 309.4% - meaning $666.66 in 1976 cash is equivalent to $2,562.63 today. This gives a total profit of $297,437.37. Still not exactly a bad return for buying a computer and keeping it in good condition for a few decades.

I'm sure at least some of you will have seen the "how rich would you be if you'd bought Apple shares instead of a MacBook/iPod/Lisa/Whatever," so let's see how that would affect our seller. Apple went public in 1980 for $22 a share - so $666.66 would have got the seller 30 shares plus change for lunch. Today, those shares would be worth $11,955 - a fraction of the profit the seller is going to make on this auction, given that he or she is already guaranteed to sell it for at least $300,000 and Christie's takes its fees from the buyer.

The IPO wasn't the best time to buy Apple shares, however: on Thursday the 8th of July 1982, a good couple of years before the company would hit the headlines with the launch of the Macintosh, shares reached an all-time low of $1.39 - losing those who had bought during the 1980 IPO a whopping 93.7 per cent of their investment. If our savvy buyer had waited until then, he or she could have bought 479 shares with change. Assuming the buyer didn't panic when Sculley 'encouraged' Steve Jobs to leave, and the company floundered until his return, he or she could sell those shares today for $190,881.50 - still below the profit from this auction.

Just as the IPO wasn't the best time to buy Apple shares, however, today isn't the best time to sell them. The company's highest recorded share price was a whopping $702.10 on the 19th of September 2012. Had our seller some form of psychic talent when it came to the stock market, he or she could have sold those 479 shares for an impressive $336,305.90 - finally eclipsing the profit from the auction.

Given that, in order for that to happen, the collection owner would have had to bought on exactly the right day and sold on exactly the right day, I can't recommend this as a means of getting rich. Instead, I'm going to sit and stare at my boxed Sinclair ZX81s, and imagine a future where a journalist is writing about how Christie's is offering an 'immaculate' example for sale at just £1.5 million...

EDIT: Either way, it's better than a bank account: had the mysterious owner stuck his $666.66 in a 3% interest savings account, 37 years of compound interest would leave him or her with just $2,020.09 to show for it.

TL;DR: When I'm in this mood, I'll do almost anything except the work I'm supposed to be doing.
miller 27th June 2013, 17:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I'm procrastinating like a... I dunno, something well known for procrastination. Student. Yeah, that'll do. I'm procrastinating like a student here, so have a little stream-of-consciousness calculation I just did by way of bonus content:

Assuming that it's the original owner who is auctioning off the Apple-1, and that it sells for $300,000 with no more bids in the next couple of weeks, the owner will have turned $666.66 into $300,000 - at first glance, a profit of $299,333.34.

However, there's inflation to take into account. Since the Apple-1 launched in 1976, the value of the US dollar has inflated by 309.4% - meaning $666.66 in 1976 cash is equivalent to $2,562.63 today. This gives a total profit of $297,437.37. Still not exactly a bad return for buying a computer and keeping it in good condition for a few decades.

I'm sure at least some of you will have seen the "how rich would you be if you'd bought Apple shares instead of a MacBook/iPod/Lisa/Whatever," so let's see how that would affect our seller. Apple went public in 1980 for $22 a share - so $666.66 would have got the seller 30 shares plus change for lunch. Today, those shares would be worth $11,955 - a fraction of the profit the seller is going to make on this auction, given that he or she is already guaranteed to sell it for at least $300,000 and Christie's takes its fees from the buyer.

The IPO wasn't the best time to buy Apple shares, however: on Thursday the 8th of July 1982, a good couple of years before the company would hit the headlines with the launch of the Macintosh, shares reached an all-time low of $1.39 - losing those who had bought during the 1980 IPO a whopping 93.7 per cent of their investment. If our savvy buyer had waited until then, he could have bought 479 shares with change. Assuming the buyer didn't panic when Sculley 'encouraged' Steve Jobs to leave, and the company floundered until his return, he or she could sell those shares today for $190,881.50 - still below the profit from this auction.

Just as the IPO wasn't the best time to buy Apple shares, however, today isn't the best time to buy them. The company's highest recorded share price was a whopping $702.10 on the 19th of September 2012. Had our seller some form of psychic talent when it came to the stock market, he or she could have sold those 479 shares for an impressive $336,305.90 - finally eclipsing the profit from the auction.

Given that, in order for that to happen, the collection owner would have had to bought on exactly the right day and sold on exactly the right day, I can't recommend this as a means of getting rich. Instead, I'm going to sit and stare at my boxed Sinclair ZX81s, and imagine a future where a journalist is writing about how Christie's is offering an 'immaculate' example for sale at just £1.5 million...

EDIT: Either way, it's better than a bank account: had the mysterious owner stuck his $666.66 in a 3% interest savings account, 37 years of compound interest would leave him or her with just $2,020.09 to show for it.

TL;DR: When I'm in this mood, I'll do almost anything except the work I'm supposed to be doing.

Is there an app for you? :D An original Apple 1 probably could not figure all that out
Gareth Halfacree 27th June 2013, 17:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by miller
Is there an app for you? :D An original Apple 1 probably could not figure all that out
I'm *special.*
Gradius 27th June 2013, 22:56 Quote
I don't give a penny for that!
kenco_uk 28th June 2013, 02:19 Quote
The thing with purchasing a lot of shares on a given day though - I assume it has an everlasting subsequent effect on the share price?
Bindibadgi 28th June 2013, 03:27 Quote
Does that mean I should have kept my 1992 Olivetti 486?
Spreadie 28th June 2013, 07:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I'm procrastinating like a... I dunno, something well known for procrastination. Student.

*snip*
Applause deserved. That was epic.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Gareth Halfacree 28th June 2013, 08:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
The thing with purchasing a lot of shares on a given day though - I assume it has an everlasting subsequent effect on the share price?
It would have an effect, yes, but not a major one: $666.66 isn't a massive amount of money to invest in a company like Apple. Even when that cash would have got the buyer nearly 500 shares, it certainly wouldn't have made him or her a majority shareholder nor given Apple the cash it would need to dig itself out of a hole. The IPO, which sold out at $22 a share, released 4.6 million shares - meaning that, if our buyer had waited until Apple's lowest ebb to pick up 479 shares, he or she would have purchased just 0.01 per cent of the company's stock - nowhere near enough to make the stock value differ in any serious amount.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Does that mean I should have kept my 1992 Olivetti 486?
Always. Never throw anything away. Ever. Why risk it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spreadie
Applause deserved. That was epic.
I have my moments.
kenco_uk 28th June 2013, 12:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
It would have an effect, yes, but not a major one: $666.66 isn't a massive amount of money to invest in a company like Apple. Even when that cash would have got the buyer nearly 500 shares, it certainly wouldn't have made him or her a majority shareholder nor given Apple the cash it would need to dig itself out of a hole. The IPO, which sold out at $22 a share, released 4.6 million shares - meaning that, if our buyer had waited until Apple's lowest ebb to pick up 479 shares, he or she would have purchased just 0.01 per cent of the company's stock - nowhere near enough to make the stock value differ in any serious amount.

Always. Never throw anything away. Ever. Why risk it?

I have my moments.

You certainly do; cap doffed to you sir :)
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums