World’s First Desktop Computer Sells For Nearly $50,000!

A piece of computing history has just been sold at auction, and you won’t believe the price tag! The world’s first desktop computer, along with its slightly younger sibling, was recently discovered during a house clearance in the UK. These rare gems, known as the Q1 and Q1 Lite, were the first fully integrated desktop computers ever created, dating back to 1972. The Q1 desktop microcomputer with an internal printer fetched a whopping $48,000, while the Q1 Lite sold for nearly $11,000.

When waste firm Just Clear was cleaning out a London property last year, they stumbled upon these incredible finds, along with a Q1 desktop companion printer for the Q1 Lite, which also found a new home for approximately $1,500. The three historic devices were put up for auction by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, with no reserve price.

Before hitting the auction block, the machines were featured at a February exhibition of early computers and gaming machines at Kingston University in London, titled “Creating the Everything Device: Showcasing the Machines That Built the Future.”

Q1 Desktop Micro Computer with Internal Printer from 1972
Q1 Desktop Micro Computer with Internal Printer from 1972

Now, get this – the Q1 hit the market four years before Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs introduced the Apple 1. Back then, these machines would have sold for the equivalent of over $90,000 each, making them too pricey for individual use.

“There are very few surviving examples of these historic items, making this a landmark occasion at Heritage Auction,” said Valarie Spiegel, Heritage’s Director of Video Games, in a statement. “The shift to a microprocessor-based architecture allowed the Q1 to punch well above its weight and support capabilities usually reserved for larger systems.”

She added, “This early machine’s capabilities were impressive and set a precedent in the computing industry; it hinted at the future of personal computing and marked a pivotal moment in technological history, demonstrating the vast potential of microcomputers to transform both professional and personal computing landscapes.”

Q1 desktop microcomputer printer from 1976.
Q1 desktop microcomputer printer from 1976.

Before the auction, Sara Balbi, managing director of Heritage Auctions’ London office, noted the uniqueness of the situation. “Keep in mind these have never been to auction, and there is no record or precedent set for them. We’ll have to see what the market decides,” she said.

The Heritage Auctions sale ended on May 24, marking a momentous occasion for tech enthusiasts and collectors alike. These groundbreaking machines serve as a testament to the incredible advancements in computing technology over the past five decades, and their sale has undoubtedly made history in the world of auctions.

Leave a Reply