Since its founding in 1976, Apple has inspired tens of thousands of hardcore devotees who cherish their devices and anxiously await new products from the company, eager to get their hands on the latest technology. But few of these super-fans can compete with Jacek Lupina, a 56-year-old Polish architect who has eschewed savings or a pension to build a massive Apple collection.
Now, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports, that huge cache is on view in Warsaw, Poland. Former 19th-century factory Fabryka Norblina now holds what Lupina claims is “the biggest and most complete Apple collection in the world.”
Lupina isn’t the first to claim his Apple collection is the biggest. But he may be the first to clear out much of his home to support his Apple-hoarding habit. Lupina tells the AFP it started as a fun hobby, but became so expansive it took over his house, forcing him to sell most of his living room furniture to make room for his acquisitions. He turned his house into a museum in 2017 and moved the objects into the factory complex when the sheer volume of stuff made his domicile unlivable. Apple Museum Poland officially opened in late May.
According to the museum’s website, there are over 1,600 items in the collection, which will be displayed on a rotating basis in the 3,700-square-foot space. The massive assemblage includes computers and devices from across the decades from Apple and NeXT (the software company Steve Jobs founded during a hiatus from Apple), as well as software, hardware, and various prototypes. The exhibition features interactive elements, including 100 hours of video contextualizing the artifacts.
A replica of the 1976 Apple I, the computer that started it all, is one of the collection’s most memorable artifacts. Only 200 were ever made, and only around 60 still exist. Though Apple co-founders Jobs and Steve Wozniak sold the computer at the time for $666.66 (roughly $3,300 today), per AFP, surviving machines have recently sold for $500,000 at auction.
Lupina’s Apple I is not an original, but a near-exact copy he built using available parts from the period. It’s a far cry from the sleek technology Apple is known for today—the design featured a wooden body and a monitor that resembled an old-school TV, dials and all. Wozniak inspected the replica during a 2018 visit to Poland and “really appreciated the work,” Lupina tells AFP, even signing the computer’s motherboard.
The museum is decorated with advertising posters from the company’s various campaigns, including 1997 “Think Different” posters featuring the images of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. Though Apple is best known for its advances in technology, it’s also an ad industry leader, promoting a marketing model based on simplicity and intuitive design.
The company has rarely been first to the innovations it champions—it didn’t create the first PC, multimedia player or smartphone. But Apple has excelled in building upon existing technology, creating products that are sleeker, more innovative and more usable by the general public than its competitors.
When college dropouts Wozniak and Jobs founded the company, personal computers were clunky, expensive, and required users to assemble the units themselves. The Apple II debuted in 1977 as a pre-assembled PC (and the first with color graphics) to some success, but the company’s real boom came in 1984 with the introduction of the Apple Macintosh computer—a PC that was affordable for much of the public and intuitive enough that even children could figure out how to use it.
In 2007, Apple changed the world of technology once again with the introduction of the iPhone—the first smartphone to feature a touchscreen and an application store. Some at the time expressed doubts that the button-light technology would usurp the then-beloved BlackBerry, or even succeed at all, but the iPhone has come to dominate the market today, accounting for roughly half of the smartphone market share.
Lupina’s museum isn’t the first to collect Apple products. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has several Apple products in its collection, including one of the elusive Apple Is.
Nor is the museum the only one that claims it has the world’s largest collection of Apple merchandise and memorabilia. All About Apple, a museum in Savona, Italy, contains some 10,000 Apple-related objects, ZDNet’s Raffaele Mastrolonardo reports. And in 2020, MacPrices.net’s Joe Leo writes, another “world’s biggest Apple collection” contender founded by a mysterious anonymous donor in Prague, Czech Republic, closed down after claims its artifacts were stolen by the head of the nonprofit that ran the museum.