1st Apple computer (handmade by Steve Wozniak) sells for $374,500

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Dec 17, 2012, 3:27 PM EST

Most of the time we spend tons of money on new technology, but it turns out that someone was willing to pay nearly $400,000 for a motherboard built way back in 1976. But it's not just any motherboard. It's one of only a handful of the very first Apple computers left, handmade by the Great and Powerful Woz.

Sotheby's auction house sold the computer for more than twice its estimated price this week. It's one of only 200 Apple 1s crafted by Wozniak back in '76, and one of only about 50 still in existence. This one is particularly valuable because it's one of the few Apple 1s left that actually still works.

Though some journalists have noted that the Apple fetched such a high price in part because Steve Jobs' recent death caused a surge of interest in the company's early history, it's worth nothing that while Jobs was instrumental to the company as a whole, these early models were built entirely by Wozniak.

"There are stories that Steve (Jobs) and I engineered those first computers together,'' Wozniak wrote in his 2006 memoir iWoz. ''I did them alone.''

Another Jobs-related item, a memo he wrote in 1974 while an employee at Atari, also fetched a high price at auction recently. The memo is a four-page document in which Jobs details how to improve the company's World Cup game, and includes a Buddhist mantra that translates to "Going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha."

Sotheby's employees said two bidders battled it out for the Apple 1, but did not identify the winner. As surprising as the high final price of the item is, it's also a fascinating insight into just how much Apple superfans care about the company. Now we're left to wonder how much one of those clunky original iPods might go for when it hits the auction block in a century or so.

(Via THR)