These 15 Pieces of Apple History Are Worth a Combined $5 Million
It’s difficult to overstate the influence Apple Inc. has had on the world in its 40-plus year history. Stop for a moment and look around the space you’re currently in. There’s a good chance you’re near an Apple product. There’s an even better chance you’re reading this story on an iPhone, MacBook or some other device created by the California company.
In 2018, Apple became a $1 trillion company. That had never happened before in the United States. But its beginnings couldn’t have been more humble. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, 21- and 25-year-olds respectively, and both college dropouts at the time, founded the company in Jobs’s parents’ garage in 1976. They brought along a guy named Ron Wayne to act as the adult of the operation, but he left before the ink could dry on the partnership documents.
Things were not always smooth. Wozniak left the company in the early ‘80s, and the late Jobs would spend more than a decade away from Apple before returning and making it into the company it is today. But they were always revolutionary when it came to product design and functionality.
That reputation means Apple has gained quite a few enthusiasts over the years, some of whom are willing to shell out fortunes to own some of the company’s earliest products — and even the founding paperwork. We found 15 items that have been sold over the years for incredible amounts of money. Let’s find out what they are.
Apple I (2010)
The first computer ever built by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs was released in 1976 with a price tag of $666.66, or $3,015 in today’s dollars. Apple produced only 200 , making them quite the collector’s item.
This model, which Christie’s auction house sold for £133,250 in 2010 (which at the time was equivalent to $211,534 ) was especially unique in that it came with the original packaging, which had a return address to the home of Steve Jobs’s parents, where the first Apple computers were built in the garage.
Apple I (2016)
This version of the Apple I* commanded the highest auction price to date when it sold in 2016 for $815,000. It’s rumored to be the first-ever Apple I built by Wozniak and Jobs. And while $815,000 is an incredible sum, it could’ve gone for more. A bid of over $1 million was entered and then abruptly withdrawn during the online auction, making the $815,000 offer the winner.
* Picture of the auctioned computer is unavailable. This is of a different Apple I printed circuit board from the Computer History Museum.
Apple I Manual
Some Apple products don’t even need to be electronics to command a hefty sale price. In June 2019, RR Auction of Boston sold a manual for the original Apple computer to “a technology entrepreneur from the northeastern United States” for $12,296.
The 12-page booklet wasn’t even close to mint condition, but its value is derived from the fact that only 65 are believed to exist. The package also included two old photos of Wozniak and Jobs that were signed by Wozniak.
Apple Employee Hoodie
We’ve learned that some old Apple products are very valuable today, but would you believe a hoodie sweatshirt could be added to that list? It’s true.
In 2011, the company apparently gave staff in its Cupertino, California, headquarters special company-branded hoodies as a thank you for a great year. One enterprising employee decided to put theirs up for sale on eBay. The move paid off. The hoodie went for $2,025.
20th Anniversary Macintosh (TAM)
This computer was considered to be way ahead of its time when released in 1997, and it has become legendary among hardcore Apple fans. It was one of the first Apple products from iconic designer Jonathan Ive, and it was also expensive back then ($7,500, or $11,989 in today’s dollars). It quickly fell into obscurity.
In 2011, a TAM was unearthed and put up for sale on eBay sealed in its original box. The winning bidder paid $9,999.95.
Andy Warhol Apple logo
Arguably the coolest of antique Apple products, pop artist Andy Warhol was commissioned by the company in 1985 to create a signature version of the Apple logo. What he came up with was a 22-by-22-inch acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas featuring the telltale fruit logo with the words “APPLE” and “Macintosh” sandwiching it.
Sotheby’s put it up for auction in 2015 with an estimated sale price of $400,000 to $600,000. Instead, it went for a whopping $910,000, making it one of the most valuable pieces of Apple memorabilia ever sold.
Apple Macintosh Portable M5126
Prototypes are some of the most valuable Apple products around, and this early laptop is no exception. The seller is apparently a prototype collector and twice put the M5126 up for auction on eBay in 2018. The first winning bidder was set to pay around $10,000 but backed out of the deal, so the owner put it back up for sale. The second time around it netted even more money, with bidding closing at $16,225.
The next two items were sold during Sotheby’s 2013 (RED) Auction to benefit AIDS research efforts in Africa. One of the curators was Jony Ive, the iconic former product designer for Apple, and he brought some choice Apple products that he designed along with Marc Newsom. These items were not antiques, but they still commanded hefty price tags.
One of the items was a set of EarPods made out of solid rose gold. They went for a cool $461,000. Sotheby’s was expecting to pull in at best $25,000 for the headphones.
Red Mac Pro
The other Apple item sold at the 2013 (RED) Auction went for more than twice as much as the EarPods. That would be a Mac Pro computer that, naturally, was colored red. It brought in $977,000. At the time, the Mac Pro was the most powerful computer Apple had ever made, but this model was just like the others, except for the red coloring.
First Generation iPod
When the iPod debuted in 2001, it launched Apple into a new era — one that would forever change the music industry. Less clunky than a Walkman and with enough storage space to hold thousands of songs, the iPod was an instant success. So it’s no surprise that the original portable music players are worth a small fortune today. In fact, a first-generation iPod unopened in its original packaging fetched $20,000 on eBay in 2014.
Apple’s Founding Documents
On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne signed the paperwork that would establish the Apple Computer Company (after just 12 days Wayne sold his 10 percent stake in the company to Jobs and Wozniak for $800 and left). Jobs and Wozniak wanted to change people’s perception of the computer and make it a household item like the fridge or television. They would eventually do just that and much more.
In 2011, Sotheby’s auctioned the partnership agreement signed by Wozniak, Jobs and Wayne. It’s by far the most valuable piece of Apple memorabilia ever sold, as the auction house netted an astounding $1.6 million for the documents. Its high estimate before the auction was $150,000.
The Apple I is by far the most valuable old Apple computer, but it’s not the only one worth a pretty penny. The Lisa model, which was named after Jobs’s daughter, was considered a commercial flop mostly due to its high price tag, but that hasn’t quelled the appetite of collectors one bit.
A fully functional Lisa-1, which was released in 1983 at the high price of $10,000 (that’s $25,759 today), was auctioned by Breker in 2017 for $50,000.
In 1972, a few years before the first Apple computers were released, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made something they really shouldn’t have: a “blue box” telephone hacking device that allowed users to make free long-distance calls. It was an illegal venture, but Jobs later credited it for inspiring Apple Computers. “If it hadn't been for the Blue Boxes,” he said, “there would have been no Apple. I'm 100 percent sure of that.”
Bonhams auctioned off one of these boxes in 2017 and scored a whopping $125,000 for it. It was expected to sell for about half that.
Steve Jobs’s Job Application
Steve Jobs wasn’t known to autograph items for fans, so when he did those items instantly became valuable. In fact, Jobs’s signature is considered the most valuable of any living or deceased celebrity. But the highest price paid for his signature to date wasn’t an autograph at all.
In 2018, RR Auction got their hands on a job application filled out and signed by the Apple co-founder when he was 18 years old. After a Newsweek magazine signed by Jobs fetched more than $50,000 the year before, the job application would be a hot auction item. In fact, it was white hot — selling for a staggering $174,757.
Translucent Macintosh SE Case
Apple sold the Macintosh SE from 1987 to 1990, and it was the first Mac to offer an internal hard drive and the slots for internal expansion. It was also a nice little computer with a small internal monitor, but it could be made to look even cooler with a translucent case.
So when Christie’s put one up for auction in 2013, it was sure to command a good price. Oddly enough, this particular sale did not meet the auction house’s estimated range, but it still brought in a healthy $6,250.