The Apple 1 Auction and Why to Invest in Future Vintage Tech

If the original Apple motherboard sells for 600 times its retail price, what will that Blackberry be worth?

Yesterday, British auction house Bonhamssold a 1976 Apple 1 for $905,000. Steve Wozniak’s invention, marketed by his friend Steve Jobs, was the first pre-assembled personal computer to hit the market and, despite extremely limited functionality, it changed everything. It was a terrible way to watch porn, but that newfangled keyboard thing was impressive enough to warrant the satanic $666.66 price tag.

We used our MacBook Air to do the math and the machine has increased in value 1,358 fold. According to the internet, which is a now a thing, that’s roughly 324 times inflation.

Are we planning to purchase an obsolete machine for the sticker price of a top-of-the-line Bentley? We are not. But we are going to learn this super valuable lesson: The vintage tech market is going to be huge. From now on, we’re buying new gadgets with an eye to what they’ll be worth on the other side of obsolescence. Here’s our current shopping list:

Oculus SDK: The first generation of consumer virtual reality devices (not counting Viewmasters) has hit the market and the company that produced it has already been purchased by Facebook, which is going to pour some serious money into development. The bulky Development Kit, a sort of diorama you attach to your face, is going to look damn foolish when Magic Leap, Google’s latest purchase, perfects the technology that allows it to project images into the eye. Augmented reality will be to virtual reality what email is to  Morse Code. You heard it here first.

Apple Watch: There are two ways Apple’s watchmaking efforts can go. If the watch is a hit and begets other hits, the original will be worth a lot of money. If the watch becomes one of Apple’s rare failures, it will be worth a lot of money.  The Hamilton Pulsar, an incredibly simple early LED watch is already selling for many times its original asking price. And that watch didn’t really do anything.

Nokia Lumia 830: Remember Nokia? Your kids won’t. The Japanese company is now owned by Microsoft, which plans to put its name on all smartphones going forward. That makes the 830 the last of the line.

Google Glass:  Future generations are going to find Glass absolutely hilarious. “Hey Grandpa, is you old face computer up in the attic?” kids will say. “I want to go as a moron for Halloween.”

Arriflex 35: The future of movies is digital. Tarantino doesn’t like it; Scorsese doesn’t like it; Keanu Reeves, for whatever reason, really doesn’t like it, but there it is. Two dimensions just isn’t gonna cut it. Still, there will always be film buffs and they will always want to know how classics like Taken 8 were made. They were made with an Arriflex.

Televisions (generally): Zenith Stratosphere radios – those stand-up numbers you see in old movies – regularly fetch over $40,000. Imagine what we’ll be able to get for that outdated Toshiba in the basement.

Signed Kindles: Copies of the Gutenberg Bible sell for over $20 million. There are more original kindles than “B42s,” but how many of those books are signed by Stephen King? Zero, that’s how many.

Photos by Martin Meissner / AP