Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak only made 200 of the original Apple-1 computers that would go on to launch Apple in to history. It's believed that only about 175 of them were actually sold and less than 70 still exist today.

Every now and then, one of these very rare machines comes up for auction. They've sold for as much as $750,000 for a rare early model, but more typically the price is in the $300,000 to $400,000 range.

That's the case with a so-called "Byte Shop" Apple-1 (a batch of the systems were made to be sold at an iconic Mountain View PC shop of that name) that was just sold for $375,000 in an online auction run by RR Auction. The original retail price of the computer was, oddly, $666.66.

But there's also something interesting about that auction sale amount. It turns out to be very close to how much value you'd have on paper today if you took that same $666.66 and invested it in Apple stock at the company's initial public offering a few years later, in 1980.

As Investopedia recently broke it down last month, an investment of $990 in Apple stock right after its IPO (at the initial price of $22) would allow you to buy 45 shares. After the company's four stock splits, that would give you a total of 2,500 shares today worth over half a million dollars. 

Now let's say you actually invested the retail price of an Apple-1, $666.66, in Apple's IPO and just held on to it. According to my math, you'd have a little over $373,000 or less than a $2,000 difference compared to the auction price of the original system that made the IPO possible.

Yes, it's very fuzzy math, especially since there is about a four year gap between the introduction of the Apple-1 and the company's IPO and I'm not accounting for inflation, the potential return on investment of the $666 in question in the interim and any other number of factors.

I also have no idea what it means, but it seems like a pleasant coincidence that a machine running on just 8 kb of RAM can be just as valuable as getting in on the ground floor of the company it launched.

Published on: Sep 26, 2018