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More than a decade ago, at a vintage computer fair in Silicon Valley, Dag Spicer had an opportunity to buy an original Apple-1 for $2,000. He passed. Any regrets? Not really, he said.

“Of course,” Mr. Spicer added, “I could have paid off my mortgage now with what it would be worth.”

Perhaps so. Last November, an Apple-1, also commonly known as the Apple I, sold for $640,000 at an auction in Germany. That sale surpassed the previous record of $374,500 set only five months earlier at Sotheby’s in New York.

The astronomical run-up in the price of the original Apple-1 machines — made in 1976 and priced at $666.66 (about $2,700 in current dollars) — is a story of the economics of scarcity and techno-fetishism, magnified by the mystique surrounding Apple and its founders, as the company has become one of the largest, most profitable corporations in the world.

The next test of the Apple-1 market comes on Saturday, at the same auction house in Cologne, Germany, where the record sale took place last November.

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