Blue Boxes were electronic devices that could be used to make long-distance phone calls without paying for them. "If it hadn't been for the Blue Boxes," said Steve Jobs, "there would have been no Apple. I'm 100% sure of that." Bonham's has one of Wozniak and Jobs' 1972 Blue Boxes up for auction. It's appraised at $8,000-$10,000.
Blue Box, 1972. An original first iteration "blue box" populated circuit board made by Steve Wozniak and marketed by Steve Jobs and Wozniak, 51 x 72 mm, with speaker wire and 9volt battery connector.
Provenance: Purchased directly from Steve Wozniak by the consignor in Autumn 1972 during a drive together from Sunnyvale to Los Angeles.
While "phone phreakers" (hobbyists who were fascinated by the phone system) had used a "blue box" since the 1950s to avail themselves of free phone service, the first digital blue box was designed by Steve Wozniak in 1972. It was marketed and sold by Wozniak (who took the phone phreak name "Berkeley Blue"), Jobs (known as "Oaf Tobar"), and friends in Berkeley and throughout California in 1972 and 1973. Wozniak cites the number of boxes they produced at 40 or 50, while Jobs put the number at 100; but certainly many of those were confiscated as phone phreaking arrests increased throughout 1973 to 1975, in part due to the commercial distribution of the devices. These blue boxes represent the first commercial collaboration between the two Apple computer giants, and the circuit boards the first printed boards by Woz. Very few of the Wozniak originals have survived and even fewer of these first iteration boards as Wozniak soon changed the circuit board layout to accommodate a less expensive membrane keypad. The early models would have been made by Wozniak himself.