Ultra-rare Apple Macintosh computer prototype with a 5.25-inch ‘Twiggy’ disk drive is set to fetch £155,000 at auction in New York

  • An early Mac prototype is one of only two with the ‘Twiggy’ 5.25-inch disk drive
  • The original from 1984 Mac instead went to market with a more robust drive
  • Steve Jobs wanted the early prototypes to be destroyed but two still remain
  • The prototype is set to go under the hammer in New York on Wednesday 

One of only two surviving prototypes of the original Apple Macintosh computer will go up for auction this week – at an asking price of £155,000. 

The prototype, which was made in 1983, features the aborted 5.25-inch ‘Twiggy’ disk drive, and is going under the hammer at Bonhams in New York on Wednesday. 

The Macintosh began as a personal project of inventor Jef Raskin before the late Apple founder Steve Jobs took it over.  

The extremely rare, fully functioning prototype for the first Apple Mac was made in 1983 and is one of only two known surviving machines of this type

The original plan was to use a 5.25-inch drive to greatly expand the capacity of standard floppy discs.

But they proved unreliable, so a 3.5 inch drive, which was more robust and small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, was chosen instead for mass production.

Jobs reportedly had all the existing ‘Twiggy’ prototypes destroyed after the launch of the Mac a year later, but two are known to remain.

The prototype that goes to auction this week had been in the possession of a former executive of a software company that had worked on the early MacWrite word processing application in the 1980s.

Adam Stackhouse, specialist at Bonhams in New York, said: ‘This is a hugely important and significant machine from the beginning of the age of computing.’   

After instead going to market with a 3.5-inch disk drive, Steve Jobs reportedly had all the existing ‘Twiggy’ prototypes destroyed — adding to their scarcity

MacPaint was an early graphics editor developed by Apple and released with the original Macintosh in 1984. It was sold separately for $195 (£155) with MacWrite

The Macintosh, which was launched amid much fanfare with a Ridley Scott-directed 1984 Superbowl advert, was Apple’s first commercial PC with an in-built screen and mouse.

It came with the applications MacWrite and MacPaint graphics editor — which were hugely important to the popularity of early Apple computers — and initially sold for $2,495.

By May 1984, the Macintosh had sold 70,000 units, but the limitations of the first Mac soon became clear and it became a hard-sell for the company. 

The product was discontinued a year later before Jobs left Apple and the company went on to release an almost identical follow-up. 

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said of the original Mac: ‘There are occasionally short windows in time when incredibly important things get invented that shape the lives of humans for hundreds of years.

‘The development of the Macintosh computer was one of these events, and it has changed our lives forever.

‘Every computer today is basically a Macintosh, a very different type of computer from those that preceded it.’

Bonhams New York is also selling the 1994 prototype for the Apple VideoPad 2, an early design in the company’s mission to move into the phone calling market.

The precursor to the iPad measures 7 inches by 9 inches and has a flip screen, a mock memory card slot, a phone line input socket, a power socket and two speakers.

The VideoPad, which is expected to sell for £14,000, was quashed by Jobs who thought it was based on technology that was too ambitious at the time.

Apple CEO John Sculley’s design of the Videopad 2 was quashed by Steve Jobs, who thought it was too advanced for the technology of the time

Between 1993 and 1995 Apple constructed the Videopad 1, 2 and 3 before the project was shelved.

Also being sold is one of just 68 working units of Apple’s first product, the Apple 1 computer, which is tipped to sell for £230,000.

The Apple 1 was hand-built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in 1976.


1976: Founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne created the company on April 1 1976 as they set about selling computer kits to hobbyists, each of which was built by Wozniak.

The first product was the Apple I. 

1977: Apple released the Apple II in June, which was the first PC for the mass market. 

1981: Jobs became chairman.  

The company’s journey to the summit of the technology industry has been a rocky one, having seen Jobs (pictured right in 1976) leave the firm in the mid-1980s after his pet project, the first Macintosh computer, struggled and he attempted to oust then chief executive John Sculley. Wozniak is pictured left  

1984: The Macintosh was introduced during an ad break for the Super Bowl and later officially unveiled during a launch event. It was discontinued a year later and Jobs left the firm.

1987: Apple released the Macintosh II, the first colour Mac.

1997: After failing to sell many NeXT PCs, Jobs eventually returned to Apple as interim CEO. He officially took the role in 2000.   

2001: Apple introduced iTunes, OS X and the first-generation iPod.

The first iPod MP3 music player was released on October 23, 2001, at an event in Cupertino and was able to hold up to 1,000 songs.

2007: Apple unveils the iPhone. 

2010: The first iPad was unveiled.

2011: Jobs resigned in 2011 due to illness, handing the CEO title to Tim Cook. Job died in October from pancreatic cancer.

2014: Apple unveiled the Apple Watch. It also unveiled its first larger iPhones – the 6 and 6 Plus. 

2015: After purchasing Beats from Dr Dre, Apple launched Apple Music to compete with Spotify and other music streaming services. 

2016: Apple is embroiled in a legal battle with the FBI regarding access to a phone used in the San Bernardino terror attack.

Apple also launched its AirPods, a set of wireless Bluetooth headphones.

2018: The company released its first smart speaker, the HomePod, powered by its digital assistant Siri.

2019: In January, Apple posted its first decline in revenues and profits for over a decade. 


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