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A rare Apple Mac has hit eBay. The Canadian seller is asking for starting bids of $99,995 for what he says is a very rare example of an early Apple computer.

So will it sell, and what makes an old computer valuable?

The computer

The Mac in question is being listed as 'the world's oldest known complete Mac'. It is claiming this distinction partly by dismissing the earlier ones which didn't come in plastic cases with a mouse and keyboard.

The seller says this is rare because of the disk drive. The listing explains that a 'Twiggy' disk drive was initially installed on the machines, but because of a high error rate, before the machine was launched, Apple changed to a different type of drive.


It says: "To date, only bits and pieces of the original "Twiggy Drive" Macintosh have ever surfaced... A motherboard here, a plastic case there, but never a complete machine or example. This is the only one!"

The 1983/1984 machine is sold 'as-is' and although it will power up it doesn't boot - although the seller says that the keyboard and mouse would work if plugged into something else.

The seller is a Canadian who calls himself Wozniac is stressing that he is not Apple's Steve Wozniak "nor am I attempting to impersonate him."

So is it worth the money?

If this is indeed what it claims to be, it could well be worth this sort of cash. Apple Mac is the kind of brand that attracts a devoted following. The computer appears to be in good condition, and if the claims of rarity are true, then it is sufficiently unusual to be collectible.

The issue here is provenance. A spokesperson at Christies says: "In these sorts of cases, a lot comes down to provenance." The provenance is this particular computer is tricky to conclusively prove.

Provenance adds enormously to value in these areas. Christies sold a rare Apple Mac in November 2010 for £133,250. The Apple 1 ( a rare example of the first personal computer that was sold with a full-assembled motherboard) was one of only 200 to have been produced, so has the rarity factor, was in good condition, but differed from the eBay example because of a provable provenance. It came complete with original box, instruction manuals and a signed letter from Steve Jobs. The other prominent co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, who designed and constructed the Apple 1, attended the auction.

Julian Wilson, specialist for Books and Manuscripts, Christie's London said at the time: "This is the first time that an Apple 1 has been sold at a major international auction, and we are thrilled with the global interest and enthusiasm that we saw leading up to the sale, and with the price realised by this rare and exceptional piece of computing history."

By selling at Christies, it ensured that the provenance was tested and proved, and the collector could be sure of what he was buying.

The trouble with this sale is that although Wozniac may well be telling the truth about his rare collectible, it's very tricky to prove.

At the time of writing there were no bids on the computer.

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