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The Henry Ford gets a piece of computing history with "Apple-1"

Oct 24, 2014

The 1976 Apple-1 purchased by The Henry Ford.
Credit Bonham

The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn has acquired one of the world’s foremost digital artifacts: an Apple-1 computer.

As the first pre-assembled personal computer ever sold, the Apple-1 marked a key moment at the start of the digital age.

The Henry Ford got one of 50 hand-built in 1976 by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak--in fellow co-founder Steve Jobs’s family garage.

Executive Vice President Christian Overland said the Henry Ford’s collection is all about new ideas and innovations--and the Apple-1 fits in perfectly.

“He [Wozniak] figured out how to put together a personal computer using fewer circuits than people could ever imagine, a real creative way of engineering,” Overland said. “And it’s the beginning of the era that defines the world as we know it today.”

Overland said the Henry Ford had already interviewed Wozniak as part of an oral history project, and the Apple-1 will now supplement that “wonderful process-of-innovation story.”

The museum acquired the computer for $905,000 at a Bonhams History of Science auction in New York City—a record price for a vintage computer.

But Overland called it “a great price” for a piece that heralded the “beginning of personal computing.”

“The Apple-1 is important for our collection because it’s one of those firsts, those transformative moments in history,” he said.