If you could buy Thomas Edison’s original designs for the lightbulb or phonograph, how much would you expect to pay? What would the Wright Brothers’ early airplane schematics fetch at auction?
Keep those questions in mind when considering what an unnamed collector shelled out for Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s original handwritten designs and programming instructions for a prototype of the Apple II home computer: $630,272, according to Boston-based RR Auction.
The auction house noted that the documents, produced by Wozniak in 1975, consist of 23 pages of notes and diagrams for the Apple II. As the young Wozniak, better known in the tech community as Woz, constructed the prototype, he meticulously added notations, circuit changes and programming notes to his working pages.
“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,” Wozniak wrote in a letter of authenticity that accompanied the documents. “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.”
Still, the documents were not the only — or even the most expensive — piece of Apple memorabilia sold during the auction, which took place in December. A fully operational Apple-1 computer, with a Woz-autographed original box, sold for $736,862. It is one of only about 200 Apple-1 computers ever built.