How much would the first schematics of the printing press be worth today? What would you pay to own the original designs for the telephone? For some people, Steve Wozniak’s simple sketches for the Apple II hold a similar sort of historical significance as those hypothetical artifacts of tech history. And we now know that someone was willing to shell out $US630,272 ($833,976) to be the exclusive owner of Woz’s doodles from the dawning of the digital age.
Wozniak first put pen to paper for these designs in 1975, and he provided a letter of authenticity to RR Auction which just concluded a sale of a couple of dozen Apple-related lots. “These documents, circa 1975, are my original Apple II prototype schematics and programming instructions,” Wozniak wrote. “They are precious.”
Of all its products over the decades, the Apple II arguably played the biggest role in establishing Apple as one of the primary competitors in the home PC market. At the time of its release in 1977, tech pundits said it “may be the first product to qualify as the ‘appliance computer.’” It’s self-contained simplicity, unique approach to memory, and ability to display colour graphics made it a hit in the business world for years.
The package of notes and schematics consisted of 23 total pages and sold to a private bidder, RR Auction said. The notes included diagrams for the “Bus Sources,” “System Timing,” “Display,” “Sync Timing & Adr. Gen,” and “Timing,” as well as 12 pages of handwritten programming instructions.
In his letter of authenticity, Wozniak wrote:
On these work-in-progress diagrams, you can even see my breadboarding technique, where I’d go over drawn connections in red as I soldered the wires in. At the time, I favoured using a purple felt tip pen for writing, so it’s interesting to see these notes decades on The prototype was hand-wired while I was still an engineer at Hewlett-Packard’s Advanced Product Division, where I was involved in the design of hand-held calculators.
His personal notes aren’t the only thing that Woz authenticated. He wrote that he had a pair of funky Apple-shaped rainbow glasses custom made by an optometrist in 1979 that “was a project, just for fun.” The glasses appear to be in shockingly good condition for their age and sold for $US18,972.50 ($25,104).
There were other interesting little tidbits in the auction including one of the first computer mice ever built that went for $US34,478.75 ($45,622) and a short job offer letter from Steve Jobs to Del Yocam that includes the signature line “I accept this insanely great offer !!!” sold for $US32,893.75 ($43,525). But the biggest item of all was a complete Apple 1 in pristine condition that included everything from the vintage power supply to the Apple cassette interface. That lot sold for $US736,862.50 ($975,016).
You can check out more pieces of Apple history that were recently auctioned off in the gallery below.
Pristine Apple 1 sold for $US736,862.50 ($975,016).
Detail of Apple 1’s keyboard.
Detail of Apple 1 guts.
Detail of Apple 1 terminal schematic.
Detail of Apple 1 processor schematic.
Wozniak’s custom Apple glasses sold for
Douglas Engelbart Three-Button ‘X-Y’ Mouse sold for $US34,478.75 ($45,622)
Intel Customer badge worn by Steve Jobs when he visited the Intel Corporation headquarters in Santa Clara, California, in April 1986 sold for $US3,750 ($4,962).
Paperwork for Apple 1 cassette interface.
Musical cue sheet used during the production of Pixar’s film Monsters, Inc. signed by Steve Jobs, John Lasseter, and Pete Docter sold for $US12,501.25 ($16,542).