Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Vintage Apple Computer Fetches a Record Price ; Anonymous Buyer Pays $671,400 for a 'Symbol of the American Dream'

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Vintage Apple Computer Fetches a Record Price ; Anonymous Buyer Pays $671,400 for a 'Symbol of the American Dream'

Article excerpt

An Apple-1 computer, made in 1976 and originally priced at $666, was sold at an auction in Germany.

Apple's stock price may be well down from its peaks last year, but the market for the company's oldest computers continues to set records.

An Apple-1 computer, made in 1976, sold for a record $671,400 on Saturday at an auction in Germany, including all fees and taxes, said Uwe Breker, the German auctioneer.

That surpassed the $640,000 record for an Apple-1, set last November at a sale at the same auction house in Cologne, Auction Team Breker. The autumn 2012 sale was a sharp rise from the previous record price for an Apple-1 of $374,500, set in June 2012 at Sotheby's in New York.

The high prices paid for the machines seem to be explained by the combination of scarcity, a fascination with the early history of the computer age, and the mystique of Apple and its founders, Steven P. Jobs and Stephen G. Wozniak. Also at work is some irrational exuberance in the prices, for a machine that can do very little and originally sold for $666 (about $2,700 in current dollars).

"This really confirms the value of Apple-1's," Mr. Breker said Saturday in an interview.

The buyer, Mr. Breker said, was a wealthy entrepreneur from the Far East, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Part of the allure of the earliest Apple machines, Mr. Breker said, is not what they are, but what they represent. "It is a superb symbol of the American dream," he said. "You have two college dropouts from California who pursued an idea and a dream, and that dream becomes one of the most admired, successful and valuable companies in the world."

In an e-mail last week, and a later telephone interview, Mr. Breker said the original owner of the Apple-1 on sale was Fred Hatfield, a former major league baseball player in the 1950s, who died in 1998. I included that account in an article published Friday.

Early Saturday morning, I received an e-mail from another Fred Hatfield, a retired electrical engineer living in New Orleans, saying he was the original owner of the Apple-1 that was auctioned Saturday. …

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