By Bill Martens
When Steve Wozniak first created his Apple-1 computer, it was all hand wire wrapped and on breadboard. No fancy automated electronic assembly was even thought of. It was purely a labor and work of true love of the art form. These hand built machines were mostly produced in early 1976 with the original production machines being produced in April 1976 by Steve Wozniak (http://www.woz.org) and Steve Jobs.
The fact that only 175 of the original Apple-1 production machines were ever manufactured makes the machine one of the rarest form of computers that are still in circulation. A trade in program for the Apple][ computer in which Apple-1 customers got a discount by sending in their Apple-1 boards to Apple. The boards were then apparently all destroyed making the machine even rarer.
However, the price of an original Apple-1 computers is no longer the paltry $666.66 of the 1976 boards and is generally beyond most peoples purses as shown in recent Christies Auction House auction of an original Apple-1 computer. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1328439/First-Apple-Steve-Jobs-auction-150k-Christies.html). The high cost of the original Apple-1 has made the efforts to copy and reproduce the Apple-1 high on the list of many hobbyists lists of must do projects..
Thus it is that this week, the Apple-1 computer has made another comeback onto the world stage. Aurélien of the hackzapple.com forums, released photos of his own replica of the original Apple-1 computer, completely hand wire wrapped and inside of a nicely crafted wooden case. The machine definitely maintains the true tradition of the Apple-1 as Steve Wozniak set forth by giving away plans for the machine at the Homebrew Computer Club meetings in Palo Alto, Califronia in 1975. (http://applethefirst.blogspot.com/p/photo.html)
There have been some replica’s built including one produced by Steve Gabaly of Obtronix. Two of these replicas have been built, one by Bryan Blackburn (http://www.bytecollector.com/images/1869x1131_board.jpg), and one by Philip Lord (http://web.mac.com/lord_philip/apple_1_&_II/Apple_1_Obtronix.html). The Obtronix Apple-1 is one of the few replicas which remain nearly totally true to the production model of the Apple-1.
Other replicas such as the A-One (http://www.achatz.nl/catalog/) and Replica-1 (http://www.brielcomputers.com/wordpress/?cat=4) took the approach of only emulating the Apple-1 through modern boards and chips. These machines have been mass produced and are still currently available for purchase online from the manufacturers.
Most people though want to try and do what Bryan Blackburn and Aurel did with their machines. Bryan also produced a handbuilt version of the Apple-1 (http://www.bytecollector.com/images/apple1.jpg) which according to Bryan, “didnt work well and was soon abandoned as a project.” But then this type of hand building does take quite a bit of patience. Thus, while Aurel’s machine is not the first ( http://www.cpmuseum.com/Exhibit.aspx?address=7603), it is a very visually appealing hand crafted machine rarely seen in the replica and home brew spectrum.