Apple Macintosh prototype sells at auction

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) — In 1984, Apple launched its groundbreaking Macintosh computer, which at the time, was a giant leap forward in the digital age.

An early prototype sold at a New York auction for $120,000 on Dec. 4.

It barely resembles the Apple computers of today, but technology experts say this is the machine that revolutionized personal computing.

“I think they all knew they were working on something that would make a real change in the world,” said Adam Stackhouse, a senior specialist with Bonham’s auction house, which just sold this prototype of the original 1984 Macintosh.

An early Apple Macintosh prototype sold at a New York auction for $120,000 on Dec. 4, 2019. (CBS Newspath)

Only two of these are known to exist. This one still works and has the signatures of the developers, including apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs molded inside. But it had a fatal flaw.

The problem with the Macintosh prototype was the disk drive. The system was codenamed Twiggy because of the thin floppy disks and it was glitchy.

“It was an error-prone drive so it had to be replaced,” Stackhouse explains.

The five and a quarter inch twiggy drive was swapped for a smaller version before it went to market. and Jobs tried to make the buggy prototype disappear.

“We understand that Steve Jobs wanted these destroyed because it wasn’t the final iteration. He didn’t want everyone to see his journey toward the final piece. He just wanted that final piece,” Stakehouse says.

While the Macintosh is the star of Bonham’s history of science and technology sale, another highlight is this rare 1976 Apple-one with the original manuals and circuit board.

“This one was signed by Steve Wozniak up here,” Stakehouse explains.

They may be light years behind today’s computers but they’re the building blocks of the digital age and pieces of American history.

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