Steve Wozniak’s handwritten schematics and programming instructions for a prototype of the Apple II home computer sold on December 23. But for how much, and who is the buyer?
(Subscribe to our Today’s Cache newsletter for a quick snapshot of top 5 tech stories. Click here to subscribe for free.)
An Apple-themed auction in December 2020 saw a select few of the company’s landmark artefacts selling for millions. One of the biggest sales is Steve Wozniak’s handwritten schematics and programming instructions for a prototype of the Apple II home computer, which sold for $630,272, according to Boston-based RR Auction. We bet you’re wondering why.
All about Woz
- Steve Wozniak — popularly known as ‘Woz’ in the tech circles — co-founded Apple Inc alongside Steve Jobs. Through their work at Apple in the 1970s and 1980s, he and Jobs became widely known as two prominent pioneers of the personal computer revolution. Jobs passed away from cancer in 2011, while, as of November 2019, Wozniak has remained an employee of Apple in a ceremonial capacity since stepping down in 1985.
The Apple II documents consist of 23 total pages of work-in-progress notes and diagrams for the Apple II breadboard, as well as five pages of circuit schematics and notes on sheets of graphing paper. There are also six photocopied pages headed ‘Bus Sources’, ‘System Timing’, ‘Display,’ ‘Sync Timing & Adr. Gen,’ and ‘Timing,’ featuring several annotations, and a 12-page handwritten programming instruction guide consisting of 28 detailed steps.
As Wozniak hand-wired the Apple II prototype, he meticulously added notations, circuit changes, and programming notes to these remarkable working pages. These documents not only helped change computers from building-sized behemoths to friendly desktop devices but likewise ushered in the personal computer revolution in April 1977.
It is accompanied by a signed letter of provenance from Wozniak himself, too: “These documents, circa 1975, are my original Apple II prototype schematics and programming instructions. They are precious. 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 favored 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.”
“Steve Wozniak’s historic schematics and notes truly represent the genesis of mainstream personal computing that changed how the world forever works, plays, and communicates,” says Bobby Livingston, Executive Vice President at RR Auction.
So who bought this important piece of computing history? Unfortunately, the winning bid for the schematics came from a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous.
Then there’s Apple-1…
A fully operational Apple-1 computer headlined the Apple-themed auction with a rare original box, signed by designer Steve Wozniak which sold for $736,862.
The Apple-1 was originally conceived by Jobs and Wozniak as a bare circuit board to be sold as a kit and completed by electronics hobbyists, their initial market being Palo Alto’s Home-brew Computer Club. Wozniak alone designed the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the computer, and he first demonstrated the Apple-1 at a club meeting in July 1976. Altogether, over a span of about ten months, Jobs and Wozniak produced about 200 Apple-1 computers and sold 175 of them.
The Apple-1 lot includes the original Apple-1 board, an original Apple-1 box, signed inside the lid in black felt tip by Wozniak, an original Apple Cassette Interface (ACI), an original Apple-1 Operation Manual, an original Apple Cassette Interface manual, a vintage Apple-1 power supply, a vintage Datanetics keyboard in a wooden case, a vintage 1976 Sanyo monitor, and a vintage Panasonic cassette player.