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Huge collection of vintage Apple computers goes to auction next week

Enlarge / I mostly recognize this early laptop from its resemblance to a similar-looking computer in the film 2010. It’s up for auction along with hundreds of other old Apple computers.
Julien’s Auctions

If you’ve been thinking your home or workspace is perhaps deficient when it comes to old Apple hardware, then I have some good news for you. Next week, a massive trove of classic Apple computing history goes under the hammer when the auction house Julien’s Auctions auctions off the Hanspeter Luzi collection of more than 500 Apple computers, parts, software, and the occasional bit of ephemera.

Ars reported on the auction in February, but Julien’s Auctions has posted the full catalog ahead of the March 30 event, and for Apple nerds of a certain age, there will surely be much to catch your eye.

The earliest computers in the collection are a pair of Commodore PET 2001s; anyone looking for a bargain on an Apple 1 will have to keep waiting, unfortunately.

Enlarge / Perhaps you are also of an age where you are remembering the screeching noises that meant your Commodore 64 was reading data from the cassette player.
Julien’s Auctions

My own personal computing history aligns with the next few lots; back in the early 1980s when it was time for our household to join the computing revolution, we did so with a Commodore 64. I might have even less success learning to program with the Hanspeter Luzi collection Commodore 64 than I did back then, however; all the manuals are in German, not English. Elsewhere in the collection, you can find some Apple III documentation, also in German.

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Enlarge / I think a catering firm might bid on this one.
Julien’s Auctions

Both lots containing Commodore 64s also come with that machine’s rounded beige Datasettes, the cassette-tape players that so many of us used as digital storage then. But if you need a (modest) speed increase, consider lot #5, which features the legendary Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive. Legendary, of course, because the drives run so hot they’re useful for keeping a beverage or perhaps a sandwich warm while you work or game.

Curiosity could be enough to make someone bid on lot #6: a Commodore 16, which looked cool in dark-gray plastic but which couldn’t hold a candle to its more powerful sibling, as it featured just 16KB of RAM. This lot also includes a neat-looking one-button joystick and several cassettes, including what appears to be a Star Wars game. Or perhaps just a game called Star-Wars?

Enlarge / No actual creative directors will be forced to use this tablet.
Julien’s Auctions

Other members of the Ars office have had a poke through the catalog as well. Perhaps remembering the time that Senior Technology Reporter Andrew Cunningham had to use Mac OS 9 for a week. Upon seeing lot #10, a Summagraphics “MacTablet,” Managing Editor Eric Bangeman suggested he was going to buy it “and Creative Director Aurich Lawson will use it for a week instead of his Wacom tablet,” he joked. (In the interest of fairness, it was suggested that our creative director should be able to pick out an old computer for our managing editor to use—that Commodore 16 perhaps?)

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Enlarge / This is cooler than a normal Apple II because it’s the Darth Vader one.
Julien’s Auctions

My own personal WTF moment occurred as I got to lot #15. It’s an Apple II, but black, not beige, and therefore a thousand times cooler, or something. Even known at the time as the Darth Vader Apple, it’s a regular Apple II in a black case made for Bell & Howell, aimed at schools.

Should you decide to impulse-buy this or any of the many other Apple IIs in the auction but aren’t sure what happens next, consider perhaps our piece from 2015, “I pulled an Apple II Plus out of my parents’ attic. Now what?” The 191-comment thread that follows should have at least a few good ideas. I’ll be honest, I mostly fast-scrolled through many of the following lots—plenty of Apple II and Apple III variants, as well as a pair of Apple Lisas, as well as some Lisa components that might have Ars’ retrotech writer Jeremy Reimer’s interest.

Enlarge / Do you miss the brightly colored fruit logo? I think I do.
Julien’s Auctions

Lot #261 is where I regained interest. That’s the lot for the Apple Macintosh Portable, which includes a slightly dirty carrying case. You’ll already know I liked that lot, though, because I used a photo of the Macintosh Portable to tempt you through the door.

Enlarge / If we were doing a college basketball bracket competition for best Apple laptop form factor, I think the G4 titanium PowerBook would win. It certainly gets my vote.
Julien’s Auctions

I was surprised not to find an example of my first actual Macintosh in the collection—a PowerBook 3400c I bought from a friend in grad school. But lot #342 is an example of the titanium PowerBook G4 with a starting bid of just $25.

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I’m not sure you’d accomplish much more running an early version of OS X than Andrew Cunningham was able to do in that 2014 experiment linked earlier in the text, but the TiBook remains my very favorite form factor from Apple, and if I had hundreds of billions of dollars, instead of buying Twitter I’d use it to have modern laptop internals fitted into that laptop’s titanium and carbon-fiber body.

You could easily confuse young people into believing this was the prototype iPhone.
Julien’s Auctions

Lot #392 has a higher starting price than many of the lots, and an estimate of between $300-$500. It’s the lot containing a Newton MessagePad 120, Apple’s first proper go at a handheld device. An expensive failure, the Newton gave the industry some ideas that led to the much more usable Palm Pilot.

Enlarge / It might not look like much now, but in 1997 this was pretty revolutionary. Although revolutionaries could probably not afford its hefty price tag.
Julien’s Auctions

Lot #418 is already at $600 at the time of writing. No surprise then that people are bidding on a Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh, which back in 1997 sold for a heady $7,499. But the TAM, as it’s known, is ultra cool, previewing a form factor that combined the computer’s hardware with a flatscreen display in a single unit—a design that wouldn’t go mainstream until the G4 iMac. (There are a few of those going up for auction, too.)

you can read a contemporary thread from the Battlefront where people try to decide if they like the various new colors of iMac.”>
Indulge in some Apple nostalgia.
Julien’s Auctions

The final lot that caught my eye was in fact the final lot—”The Insanely Great History of Apple” poster. I’m probably a lot too late to that party, though—despite an estimate of just $25-$50, the poster is currently sitting at $250 with five bids so far.