Auction News

Pioneer Q1 home computers found in house clearance head to auction


Q1 Lite computer
Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Two Q1 computers, the world’s first true home computers, are to be sold next Friday, May 24.

The machines were found by a UK waste disposal company while clearing out a house.

The Q1 1972 Desktop Microcomputer and Q1 Lite from 1976 are extremely rare.

The Q1 had a printer, unlike its Lite version.

Most experts consider the devices made by the Q1 Corporation of New York the first true microcomputers – self contained machines suitable for personal, home use.

The machines didn’t meet with success, and the personal computer revolution wasn’t to take off until the likes of Sinclair, Commodore, Apple and even the BBC started to make devices that sold in huge numbers.

The Q1 machines were bulky consoles built around keyboards, inbuilt screens and printers.

They are not yet sought-after rarities because so few have survived to be sold.

That makes guessing a value very difficult.

Heritage Auctions estimate these examples could sell for $60,000 apiece.

Early Apples in particular are very valuable. In 2014 an Apple-1, the first Apple computer, sold for nearly $1 million. Another realised $400,000 in 2021 and a prototype made $700,000 in 2022.

“Keep in mind these have never been to auction and there is no record or precedent set for them—therefore we’ll have to see what the market decides,” Sara Balbi, of Heritage’s London office, told Observer.

The Q1 and Q1 Lite both had price tags to match their cutting edge status when new. In modern terms they would have cost around $90,000 when new.

Before their sale they were shown at Kingston University in London. Paul Neve a lecturer said: “There would be no PCs, no Macs and no Apple or Android phones without Q1 Corporation, Sinclair and Acorn.”

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