Jimmy Grewal claims he has every single Apple product that was ever launched since the company was founded in 1976.
Diehard fans of Apple products often go into a frenzy when a new product from the tech giant hits shelves. The 4am queues in front of Apple showrooms — in the UAE and globally — when a new iPhone hit the shelves is proof of the brand’s massive popularity.
But how many people remember the first Macintosh computer that Apple launched? Or the first iPhone introduced?
Dubai expat Jimmy Grewal’s love for Apple has turned him into a vintage collector who claims he has every single Apple product that was ever launched since the company was founded by college dropouts Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak in 1976.
Among his rare collection worth millions of dollars is an original 1976 Apple-1 Computer designed by co-founder Steve Wozniak and assembled by hand in Steve Jobs’ parents’ house; the groundbreaking Apple Lisa computer; the iconic Macintosh of 1984; the Newton MessagePad handheld personal digital assistant, and what is believed to be the first Apple product sold in the UAE – an Apple II computer from 1979.
“I hope my collection will inspire people and help them understand the humble beginnings and the fascinating evolution of Apple in the last 30 years,” Grewal, an ex-Microsoft employee told Khaleej Times, ahead of his first exhibition this weekend. He will be showcasing 40 pieces from his private collection of rare Apple computers at GITEX 2021 from October 17 to 21 (Zabeel Hall 3, Stand Z3-FT1).
The exhibition is organised in partnership with Dubai World Trade Centre as part of the 41st edition of GITEX Global.
Grewal’s AAPL Collection, named after the company’s stock ticker symbol, documents the historic rise of Apple from a Silicon Valley startup to the technology powerhouse that sparked the smartphone revolution. Apple is the most valuable publicly traded company in the world with a market capitalisation of nearly Dh9 trillion ($2.5 trillion).
“This is Apple’s first computer Apple-1 assembled in Steve Job’s proverbial garage. It was not a commercial success and sold fewer than 130 pieces. But that sparked the Apple revolution that allowed them to raise their first investment,” Grewal said, pointing at the motherboard framed neatly in his office in Dubai Investment Park.
The model that has no outer case, screen, keyboard or power supply, is still around, and routinely fetches in excess of Dh1.5 million ($410,000) at auctions.
Grewal, who grew up in Dubai and had worked at Microsoft developing Internet Explorer and Office for Mac before moving back to Dubai, knows each and every item in his 150-strong AAPL Collection.
The first Apple II computers went on sale on June 10, 1977 and were the first fully-assembled and ready-to-use product from Apple. It was also the first personal computer targeted at the consumer market, and the first to support colour graphics. To reflect the computer’s character cell colour graphics capability, the Apple logo on the casing was represented using rainbow stripes, which remained a part of Apple’s corporate logo until early 1998.
“This is Apple-2 – the second and more successful model they launched in 1977. This is the first mass-produced model, which is easy to use and had the first spreadsheet programme called VisiCalc,” said Grewal who is married to Pawan.
The model was the first computer that supported colour graphics and could be connected to a monitor or a television.
“This is the first time we had an apple on the Apple logo,” said Grewal, who is currently the executive director of Elcome International in Dubai.
An estimated 40,000 machines were sold during its production run, though eventually Apple sold more than 5 million computers from the Apple II family between 1977 and 1993.
Lisa, rumoured to be named after Steve Jobs’ daughter, is a desktop computer developed by Apple, that was released on January 19, 1983. It is one of the first personal computers to present a graphical user interface (GUI) and mouse in a machine aimed at individual business users. Development of the Lisa began in 1978, and it underwent many changes before shipping at US$9,995 (equivalent to $25,970 in 2021 considering inflation) with a five-megabyte hard drive. Only 10,000 pieces were sold in two years.
Released with much fanfare in January of 1984, the Macintosh was the first affordable computer to include a graphical user interface. It was built around the new Motorola 68000 chip, which was significantly faster than previous processors, running at 8MHz. The Mac came in a small beige case with a black and white monitor built in. It came with a keyboard and mouse and had a floppy disk drive that took 400 KB 3.5” disks — the first personal computer to do so. It originally sold for $2,495 in the US.
The first of Apple’s truly portable Macs, the PowerBook 100 had basically the same processor as the old Mac Portable. The 100 was well received despite its slow processor, passive-matrix screen, and lack of internal floppy drive. It originally sold for $2,500. The PowerBook 100 was released alongside the 140 and the 170. While the latter two models were based on the same logic board, the 100 had a simpler logic board design, and was designed and manufactured by Sony for Apple.
How did it all start?
Grewal says his fascination for computers began when he was attending The American School of Dubai from 1982 to 1995.
“I think they were the first Apple customers in Dubai. They bought the first Apple computer in 1979,” he said. The school later gifted that computer to their alumni and is now gracing Grewal’s collection.
Years later, he picked up a 1984 model Macintosh from a garage sale in the US. “I thought it looked cool and bought it as a decorative piece for my dorm. Next week, I went back and bought two more,” he said.
And by the time he moved back to Dubai in 2003, Grewal had an impressive collection of around 30 old Apple computers.
“Over the years, I kept adding to the collection through my ex-colleagues and co-workers at Apple. In 1986, my parents bought me the first computer which I still have,” he said.
Grewal says the evolution of Apple and its brand value and technological prowess is mind-boggling.
“For instance, all the computing powers of all the 150 computers in my collection… they would represent about 1 per cent of the computing power of an iPhone. This collection is a good reminder that you can become the most valuable and successful company in the world and have many failures,” said Grewal.
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