One of only two surviving prototypes of the original Apple Macintosh was just sold at a Bonhams auction for the hammer price of $120,000. Including the buyer’s premium, the Macintosh sold for $150,075 in total.
The Mac — lot #60 — was the headlining item at the Bonhams’ History of Science and Technology sale in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The Mac started at a bid of $95,000 but bidding closed at $25,000 more than that. It was sold at 11:02 a.m. PST to paddle number 5001, an online bidder.
What’s so special about this Mac?
While antique and vintage computers often fetch high prices at auctions like these, the specific Macintosh in question here is actually much, much rarer than the one you may find in an attic or private collection.
Specifically, it’s actually one of two surviving Macintosh prototypes with a 5.25-inch “Twiggy” disk drive.
That’s significant because Apple largely considered the Twiggy disk drive obsolescent by the time 1984 rolled around. Before the Macintosh actually entered production, Apple swapped it with a Sony 3.5-inch drive.
But Apple still made a few prototypes with the Twiggy drive. This particular Mac’s survival is even more impressive when you know that Apple destroyed virtually all of the 5.25-inch drive prototypes, per CEO Steve Jobs’ orders.
Despite Jobs’ orders, the developers of an early OS X word processing program, MacWrite, actually saved the prototype Mac from destruction. It eventually went on to be shown at the [email protected] Anniversary Celebration in 2014. At the celebration, Apple cofounder and original engineer Steve Wozniak booted it up.
Suffice it to say, this Macintosh is a living piece of Apple history. As Adam Stackhouse, a specialist at Bonhams, told the Daily Mail:
“This is a hugely important and significant machine from the beginning of the age of computing.”
The original Macintosh
The original Macintosh lineup was first released to the public in 1984. It’s well-known for arguably being the device that turned Apple’s fate around. That’s thanks in due part to its design and the now-famous marketing that surrounded it.
Even though Apple discontinued the desktop computer about a year later, the company still sold about 70,000 units. It also eventually went on to release a nearly identical follow-up.
“There are occasionally short windows in time when incredibly important things get invented that shape the lives of humans for hundreds of years,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak once said.
“The development of the Macintosh computer was one of these events, and it has changed our lives forever,” he added.
Other auction items
In addition to the Macintosh prototype, Bonhams also sold quite a few other pieces of vintage Apple technology and memorabilia.
Bonhams, for example, sold a 1994 prototype for the Apple VideoPad 2, which fetched a price of $9,500. If you aren’t familiar, it was one of Apple’s early experiments in the phone market and a spiritual precursor to the iPad.
Bonhams also sold one of Apple’s very first products, the Apple 1, for $140,000 to an online bidder. Although there are 68 working units left, the Apple 1 is significant because they were all hand-built by Steve Wozniak back in 1976.
While the Mac was the auction’s headlining device, Bonhams sold plenty of other artifacts in the science and technology realm. That includes everything from an eighteenth-century sundial to a signed photographic portrait of Albert Einstein.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.