Rare Apple-1 from Dubai collector valued at $485,000 and signed by Wozniak to be auctioned

Jimmy Grewal plans to use proceeds of computer sale to create opportunities for the public to interact with his collection of historic Apple devices

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A rare Apple Computer 1 owned by a Dubai collector and signed by one of its creators is being auctioned next month, with its owner hoping to create awareness about how the device started a technology revolution.

The historic computer — which still works — has been valued at Dh1.8 million ($485,000) and will be auctioned off on eBay in early June, said owner Jimmy Grewal.

His AAPL Collection documents the first 30 years of Apple's existence from 1976 and is widely considered the rarest selection of Apple products in the Middle East. Mr Grewal owns two Apple-1 units.

Adding to the value of the Apple-1 going under the hammer is an autograph from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak — who recognised his own creation and signed it during a visit to Dubai last November.

“I plan to use the proceeds to create more opportunities for the public to interact with my collection, whether it’s at pop-up exhibitions or permanent public venue,” Mr Grewal told The National.

The Apple-1 was the first product by the company in 1976. Hand-built by Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Mr Wozniak, only 200 of these machines were made and were sold for $666.66.

Only a few dozen are known to exist today and a website, Apple 1 Registry, keeps track of these with respective names to distinguish them.

Jimmy Grewal's Apple collection in Dubai

The Apple-1 that Mr Grewal is putting up for sale is numbered 89 on the registry, named Schlumberger 2, a reference to the US oilfield services company that is the oldest known owner of the computer. His other Apple-1 is numbered 67 and named Schlumberger 1.

The most recent Apple-1 auction was last November, when California-based John Moran Auctioneers sold an Apple-1 for $500,000.

But that is nowhere near the 2014 record, when auctioneers Bonhams sold an Apple-1 for $905,000 in New York.

Another Apple-1 device is currently under the hammer at New Jersey-based Goldin, which, as of Monday, has attracted a bid of $270,000. There's also one on eBay, with an asking price of $1.5m.

Computers are not only the memorabilia from Mr Jobs that command a high price. In November 2021, a handwritten letter by the Apple co-founder addressed to his childhood friend Tim Brown, detailing his plans to attend the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela, fetched $500,312 at an auction conducted by Bonhams in London.

Other Apple lots included in that auction were vintage promotional posters, a technical schematics album, the scrapped VideoPad 2 tablet and prototypes of the original Macintosh and iPad.

Mr Grewal restored the Apple-1 with the help of his team at Dubai-based marine electronics company Elcome International, where he is an executive director.

His extensive collection includes the complete line of the Apple II and Macintosh families, early handheld devices, printers and displays, and the original iPod, iPhone and iPad, besides books and manuals.

Mr Grewal has taken his collection to a number of exhibitions, most recently at the Gitex Technology Week in Dubai last October.

“What I find interesting and draw inspiration from is that Apple had successes and failures, some that almost bankrupted them on more than one occasion,” said Mr Grewal, a graduate of Duke University in North Carolina who once worked for Microsoft's Mac division.

“And yet they kept going, innovating, developing and building, and now they are [among] the most valuable company in the world.”

Mr Grewal did not give any specific expectations for the result of the auction, but he was “optimistic”, considering the condition his Apple-1 is in.

He does, however, want the device to remain close to home.

“My personal hope is that someone or an institution from the region is the one to purchase it so it can stay here, so people in the UAE and Gulf can have access to this amazing relic from the dawn of computer history,” Mr Grewal said.

“If not, I have a second one that will stay in my collection and hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity for more people to see it in the future.”

Steve Wozniak with Jimmy Grewal's Apple-1 motherboard during the Apple co-founder's visit to Dubai last November. Photo: The AAPL Collection
Updated: May 25, 2022, 8:45 AM