Thursday, June 21, 2012

BPN 1603: Digital antiques: growth brilliants?

On June 15, 2012 Sotheby auctioned off an Apple 1 computer, which had been manufactured by hand by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. It was one of 200 handmade devices and it took 295.000 euro. On November 23, 2010 an Apple 1 was sold for 157.000 euro by the auctioneers Christie’s in London. This device was bought by the Italian business man and collector Marco Boglione.  The device, number 82 out of the 2000 devices,  had been sold before on eBay in November 2009 for 37.500 euro.
The devices  are the first digital ones being brought to be auctioned off. The value is partly due to the brand name Apple. The difference in the prices they took is depended on the configuration. The Boglione computer is a simple mother board with a 6502-micoprocessor, a 4Kb RAM memory, an audiocassette-interface and the Integer basic programming language built into the ROM chip. The original sales price of the computer was $ 666,66 (487,76 euro). A key board and monitor still had to be linked up separately.
Why did the Sotheby’s Apple 1 computer fetch a better price.  Quality factors. History: 36 years since its production. Moment: the auction was held one-and-a-half year later. The configuration: this computer was still working and had a keyboard and monitor linked to the motherboard; besides if was offered with four manuals.
This rise of financial value might indicate the beginning of a new branch in the auction business: digital hardware. The Apple 1 is in 2012 only 36 years old. Antiques usually are 70 years of age. So this Apple is only just a little bit over half the antique deadline. Or is this trend going to follow the law of Moore. Next will be the Apple II.
Looking around in my museum the following devices, still dating back to last century, should be kept ready for auction:
-        Apple IIe (e being the European edition), 1980
-        NEC portable computer, 1982 (see illustration; © Jak Boumans Collectie)
-        Tandy Model 100, 1983
-        Speak & spell, 1983
-        ZX Spectrum, 1984
-        Commodore 64, 1984
-        Olivetti Quattro, 1987
-        Sony Datadiskman, first e-reader with several ebooks on minidisk, 1993
-        The Nokia brick or Nokia Communicator, 1995
-        HP PDA, 1996
-        Franklin Rocket eBook, 1997.
And these are just hardware devices, which will be up for auction some day. Interesting will be to see the first auction of a content product, such as content on floppy disc or CD-ROM. Of course the content products will be country and/or language related. In my museum I have a number of English and Dutch language CD-ROMs, which were produced as text products between 1985 and 1990.

Are the devices and content products value growth brilliants? I guess that the small overview above might become valuable over the years, if they survive. But a better option will be to get these devices and content products exhibited in an experience center for later generations.
BPN 1603

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