The Henry Ford Acquires 1976 Apple-1 Computer at Bonhams History of Science Auction

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Computer one of first 50 originally produced by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs

Similar to what Henry Ford did with the Model T, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs put technology directly in the hands of the people with the creation of the Apple-1, completely altering the way we work and live.

The Henry Ford confirmed today the acquisition of a 1976 Apple-1 computer, one of the first 50 originally produced and still in operational condition. The Apple-1 was purchased at Bonhams History of Science auction in New York City on October 22 for $905,000.

“When acquiring artifacts for The Henry Ford’s Archive of American Innovation, we look at how the items will expand our ability to tell the important stories of American culture and its greatest innovators,” said Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford. “Similar to what Henry Ford did with the Model T, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs put technology directly in the hands of the people with the creation of the Apple-1, completely altering the way we work and live. The Apple-1 was not only innovative, but it is a key artifact in the foundation of the digital revolution.”

The Apple-1 is the first pre-assembled personal computer ever sold and first computer with a keyboard and video display, heralding the beginning of the personal computer age. Its origins began in 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, Calif., where member Steve Wozniak demonstrated his breakthrough design. Coupled with his high school friend Steve Jobs’ marketing prowess, Wozniak and Jobs went on to obtain an order from Byte Shop owner, Paul Terrell for 50 assembled boards. These were assembled over the course of 30 days inside the Jobs’ family home – the humble, almost cottage industry-like beginnings of what would become one of the world’s most profitable companies.

“The opportunity to acquire an Apple-1 is a rare one, given their low production numbers,” said Kristen Gallerneaux, Curator of Communication & Information Technology at The Henry Ford. “The likelihood that a unit as complete as this will come up for auction is slender. The Henry Ford would have been remiss in holding off much longer in acquiring one for our collection.”

Only 64 of the originally produced 200 Apple-1 computers are known to exist – with 15 of this group known to be operational. In addition to the central Apple-1 motherboard, the acquisition also includes a hand-built keyboard interface, power supply, facsimile copies of the owner’s manual and schematics, Sanyo monitor and Apple-1 Cassette Interface. It also includes a group of printed materials generated by the Cincinnati AppleSiders enthusiast group, founded by the original owner of this Apple-1, John Barkley Anderson. Poke-Apple newsletters, and two VHS tapes documenting Wozniak’s 1980 speech at an “Apple-Vention” organized by the AppleSiders group are also included.

The Henry Ford is currently working with Bonhams regarding bringing the Apple-1 Computer to its new home inside Henry Ford Museum. Details on when the computer will be put on permanent display will be released at a later time.

About The Henry Ford
The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan is an internationally-recognized cultural destination that brings the past forward by immersing visitors in the stories of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation that helped shape America. A national historic landmark with an unparalleled collection of artifacts from 300 years of American history, The Henry Ford is a force for sparking curiosity and inspiring tomorrow’s innovators. More than 1.6 million visitors annually experience its five attractions: Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, The Ford Rouge Factory Tour, The Benson Ford Research Center and The Henry Ford IMAX Theatre. A continually expanding array of content available online provides anytime, anywhere access. The Henry Ford is also home to Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school which educates 485 students a year on the institution’s campus. For more information please visit our website thehenryford.org.

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Melissa Foster
The Henry Ford
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