Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
Both parties were tidying up the garage, and this led to a difference of opinion. Hans requested that the lawyer add another clause to the contract. They would clear the garbage in the garage. As long as the walls were not damaged, Abel could not find fault with them.
The contract was signed, and the rental was paid, so Li Du and his group could start moving in. Once the landlord had left, Hans immediately asked, “Hey, what’s in the garage?”
Li Du opened the door, went in, and opened a worn out wooden box. “This is the one. I wonder who left this here, the previous tenant or Abel.”
He opened the wooden box and found a small, tatty machine consisting of a big, washed out monitor, an old fashioned keyboard, and a motherboard and microchips. Among those items, the keyboard was unique. It did not have protection on its periphery. It was as if it were simply a plastic board with some plastic keys attached on top. It gave the keyboard an ancient appearance. This was clearly an old computer. Just like the big monitor, it was outdated. However, it was noteworthy that there was a well-known logo printed on a component of this old computer: an apple with a bite taken out of it!
Hans was amazed and yelled, “An Apple-1?! Is this the first generation of Apple computers? Steve Jobs and Stephen Gary Wozniak’s Apple-1?!”
On December 8, 1975, Paul Terrell opened the world’s first retail computer store in Mountain View, California. In 1976, two young adults paid this computer store a visit and brought in a computer that they had tinkered with. They wanted to promote the fine product they had designed with the objective of making some money. At that time, no one could have known that this was an historical moment. The legendary story in the history of technology had begun to unfold.
These two young adults were, of course, Steve Jobs and Stephen Gary Wozniak. They named their invention the Apple-1. It was the ancestor of the Apple series, and that was the thing Li Du and Hans were looking at now.
Hans knew about the Apple-1’s value. He carefully lifted it up and had a look at the motherboard, microchips, and monitor. He said joyfully, “This is great! We’ve found a treasure.”
Sophie was puzzled. She asked, “Is that a computer?”
Hans turned back and said, “Yes, this one of the Apple-1’s DIY components. Customers would buy it and weld the corresponding microchips onto the motherboard, and then connect the power supply unit, motherboard, and monitor together.”
Sophie gasped, surprised. “Wow, that sounds complex. I wouldn’t know how to assemble it if I bought one. It would just be useless junk in my hands.”
Li Du said thoughtfully, “Maybe the person who bought this had the exact same thought. They were unable to assemble it, so they decided to abandon it.”
Hans and Lu Guan were fiddling with the computer components. Sophie looked at them with curiosity and asked, “Does it still work? It has already been so many years since the birth of the Apple-1. Since it was left here for such a long time, it probably won’t work now, right?”
“It doesn’t matter if it works or not. This thing is still very valuable. It could at least pay our rent. If it does work, then it would be wonderful,” Hans said in high spirits.
The Apple-1 was very costly since it was Apple’s only limited edition product. At that time, Jobs was selling the Apple-1 to Terrell. Terrell appeared to be very interested, but he told Jobs that he wanted computers that were well assembled. Thus, granting Terrell’s wish, Jobs provided him with 50 Apple-1s in perfect condition.
The computer market back then was very small. Jobs and Wozniak had to promote the product themselves. At that time, the Apple-1 was specially sold to computer enthusiasts.
Jobs and Wozniak were unique in two distinctive areas. The first was that they had to sell the product themselves. They were selling computer components which included wooden cases, keyboards, and power supply units. The second was that to generate more profits by solely selling motherboards and monitors, the customer had to sort out their other needs themselves.
This Apple-1 in the possession of Li Du and his group was the very Apple-1 Jobs and Wozniak invented that they offered to sell to Terrell. This could be ascertained based on the composition of the caseless keyboard.
How many of the Apple-1s had they managed to sell at that time? Two hundred units in total were sold and 25 units were not sold. The total number of Apple-1s on the market would be 175 units!
This number of Apple-1s sold in a short period of time was a pretty good result. This gave Jobs and Wozniak confidence in continuing their path in the industry. However, based on the current market, this number was small. It would seem that the Apple-1 was extremely valuable.
As soon as Li Du found the Apple-1, he took some time to research it. According to the information online, Apple had recorded all registered Apple-1s in a statistics report. There were still 66 units worldwide.
The reason these reports were kept was because when Apple had just started, Wozniak was the only one who could provide technical support for the Apple-1. The number of units at that time was relatively small, so Wozniak could to handle them. However, when the Apple II was released in 1977, the number of Apple users had increased rapidly. In order to reduce Wozniak’s workload, Apple set up a technical support team.
In addition, to aim technical support in a better direction, Apple strongly encouraged users to upgrade their utilities. As the users began to upgrade, a lot of the Apple-1’s were obliterated. This further decreased the number of existing Apple-1 machines in the world.
Hans and Lu Guan took out the components and gave them a good cleaning. Thick layers of dust had covered the components. Fortunately, the weather in Phoenix was hot and dry. Thus, the machine had not corroded due to the low humidity. This was the most important point.
While cleaning, Lu Guan noticed a welding point on the motherboard. “I thought no one had used it. Apparently, someone did use it and then disassembled it.”
Li Du asked, “Does it affect its value?”
“As long as it can still operate, who cares if someone has used it,” Hans answered.
After cleaning up the components, Hans and Lu Guan picked up an electric welder and reassembled the computer. This process seemed very complex to Li Du. However, the task was simple for Hans and Lu Guan. They found a tutorial online and followed the directions. It seemed like they were building a lego house. They managed to assemble it with ease.
Hans plugged in the battery charger, rubbed his hands together, and waited expectantly. “Come on, D*mn it!”
Lu Guan then turned the switch on. He had always longed for this experience. The Apple-1 had been one of the items on his Christmas wish list as a child.
The power switch activated. The green light below the small screen lit up. The characters on the screen began to dance around! Seeing this, Hans and Lu Guan excitedly gave each other a high five and shouted, “Yes, hurray! It worked! This is a working Apple-1!”
The Apple-1 began to operate its programs but its speed was very slow. Li Du asked, “Why is it taking so long?”
Hans waved his hand. “Patience, Li Du. This computer uses BASIC. It’s more disordered and complicated than other computer languages. Just give it a little while.”
The characters dancing on the screen had increased. At last, the classic Apple-1’s black interface appeared in front of them.
Hans made a fist and yelled, “YES! This is worth at least $600,000!”
The current market price for a working Apple-1 was $600,000. When it was first released, its price was only $666.66. Its value had increased a thousandfold.