On Dec. 11, as part of what is being calling the Exceptional Sale, Christie’s in New York will auction off the “Ricketts” Apple-1 personal computer, a surviving example of the first model Apple sold commercially, in 1976. This particular computer — a green circuit board mounted under glass — can trace its history clear back to Steve Jobs’s parents’ garage (its original owner and namesake, Charles Ricketts, bought the computer there, as evidenced by a cancelled check for $600 that is part of the sale). It is estimated to fetch $400,000 to $600,000 and will likely go higher, as did one that sold for $671,400 last year at Breker auction house in Germany.
To assess the condition of the “Ricketts” Apple-1 and bring it to full operation, Christie’s called in Corey Cohen, a 43-year-old manager at a software company and vintage computer enthusiast from New Jersey who has become to early Apple circuitry what Renaissance art historians are to Caravaggios. Mr. Cohen spoke last week about his newfound role and the beauty of the Apple-1 design. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)