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Apple I

The Apple I was an early personal computer and the first to combine a keyboard with a microprocessor and a connection to a monitor.

Designed by Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer, it was sold as Apple's first product, beginning in April 1976. Its retail price was $666.66. About 200 units were produced. Unlike other hobbyist computers of its day, which were sold as kits, the Apple I was a fully-assembled circuit board containing about 30 chips. However, to make a working computer, users still had to add a case, power supply, keyboard, and display. An optional board providing a cassette interface for storage was later released at a cost of $75.

The Apple I's use of a keyboard and monitor was distinctive. Competing machines such as the Altair 8800 generally were programmed with front-mounted toggle switches and used blinking lights for output. This made the Apple I an innovative machine for its day, in spite of its lack of graphics or sound capability. It was discontinued in March 1977, when it was replaced with the venerable Apple II.

The Apple I is sometimes credited as the first personal computer to be sold in fully assembled form; however, some argue that honor rightfully belongs to other machines, such as the Datapoint 2200.

An estimated 30-50 Apple Is are still known to exist, making it a collector's item. An Apple I reportedly sold for $50,000 at auction in 1999; however, a more typical price for an Apple I is in the $14,000-$16,000 range. A software-compatible clone of the Apple I, produced using modern components, was released in limited quantities in 2003 at a price of around $200.

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