‘Most important computer in history,’ Steve Jobs’ Apple I, star of Living Computers museum

“The Living Computers: Museum + Labs in Seattle is home to some of the most noteworthy machines ever created,” Kurt Schlosser reports for GeekWire.But a new exhibit opening this week will showcase what one official at the Paul Allen-founded institution called ‘the most important computer in history.'”

“Lāth Carlson, executive director of Living Computers, added to that designation by saying the metal box with a keyboard is ‘also the most boring to look at.’ But for fans of computing and Apple in particular, the Apple I that once sat in founder Steve Jobs’ office is exciting for a whole host of reasons,” Schlosser reports. “The machine is the centerpiece of a new permanent Apple Computer Exhibit opening on Friday at the museum, in which visitors are invited to more closely examine the first two decades of Apple and the impact that the company’s people and products had on personal computing and the world as we know it today.”

The Apple I computer, in a prototype metal case, that co-founder Steve Jobs used as a demo model and which was taken from a shelf in his office in 1985. Photo: Living Computers)
The Apple I computer, in a prototype metal case, that co-founder Steve Jobs used as a demo model and which was taken from a shelf in his office in 1985. Photo: Living Computers)

“The Jobs machine will be displayed alongside another Apple I, billed as the only operable version of the company’s first-ever product that will also be available for use by the public,” Schlosser reports. “Carlson said the machine, housed in a prototype metal case, was one that Jobs and Apple’s first investor, Mike Markkula, would take on the road to demonstrate its capabilities to potential investors. It had even been modified by Bill Fernandez, the first employee that Apple ever hired.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Among others, UNIVAC I begs to differ, but that particular Apple I certainly has a legitimate claim to the title of “most important computer in history” — even though a decade or so from now, that title might rightfully be bestowed upon iPhone.

One of eight working Apple 1 computers goes up for auction; price estimated between $190,000 and $320,000 – March 16, 2017
Rare Apple 1 goes for $815,000 in auction – August 26, 2016
Rare Apple 1 with original first manual written by Apple co-founder Ronald Wayne up for auction – October 19, 2015
Woman unwittingly drops off $200,000 Apple 1 at recycling center – May 31, 2015
Fully-operational Apple 1, sold sold directly by Steve Jobs, could fetch $600,000 at December auction – November 3, 2014
Apple 1 computer sells for $905,000 at auction – October 22, 2014
Apple 1 computer sells for $387,000 in Christie’s auction – July 9, 2013
Original Apple 1 computer sells for $374,500 in auction – June 15, 2012

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Let’s face it. There is no single point at which a computer model or design can lay claim to the single most important. As when we get to the point to be able to definitively make the claim, the actual crown jewel will have been lost and forgotten.

    Let’s not forget the wheel or clock. We tend to underestimate the value of anything until it’s too late.

    The Apple //e was my first personal computer. It could have easily been a TSR-80 or Commodore 64. They were all on the table, even though I begged and prodded for the //e. Level heads prevailed and this began the digital generation.

  2. Why just mention Jobs…. Woz was the real creator and half of the picture..
    I find it very disrespectful when his name is so ignorantly/flagrantly left out of Apple and its history .

    Just like no building or structure at the new campus has been dedicated to him either….
    but we have a Steves Jobs Theater …

    Without Woz.. most likely there would have been No Apple !

    Here is to you Woz ✌️👊🍷🍷

    1. I agree 100%, but more emphatically. Yes, Jobs was the marketer. Without Jobs Woz would have given the Apple I computers away or sold them for next to nothing. Apple as we knew it in the 80s through today would never have extisted without Jobs.

      HOWEVER… without Woz Jobs would have had absolutely nothing to sell. It was Woz that made the Apple I, Apple II and even some of the Mac’s internals possible. Woz was a truly critical part of Apple Computer, Inc. up through about 1985 or so. Hell, without Woz we would never even have seen the 1984 TV ad.

      To leave Woz out of any description of Apple is more than just disrespectful — it is a direct insult. To leave Woz out of any story about the Apple I is criminal.

  3. Sadly that quote was taken out of context. The full quote was “this is probably the most important computer in the world, that is also the most boring to look at.” I was speaking of this particular Apple 1 prototype that was used by Steve Jobs as a demonstration machine to raise funds to produce the Apple ][, not of the Apple 1 as a type. Half of the exhibit is dedicated to Woz’s work, who was here Wednesday night.

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