If you listen to any telling of the early days of Apple, it probably involves a couple of guys named Steve in one of their parents garage assembling computers by hand. While this makes a good story, its not exactly accurate. Intrigued by the fact that every Apple 1 I have ever seen was wave soldered (not hand soldered), I shot an email off to Woz to get some answers. His reply came 6 minutes later and was about as clear as could be:
We never designed or constructed any breadboards or computers in the garage. We picked up the wave soldered boards where they were made in Santa Clara and brought them to the garage for final assembly and testing.
I did construct either 2 or 3 Apple I’s by hand, with the chips tightly spaced on HP breadboards (just holes) and I used wirewrap wire cut to length for each wire I soldered on. It’s very compact that way and visible, compared to using wirewrap sockets. One of the Apple I’s I built this way was for my friend Randy Wigginton.
I still have my main Apple I prototype board.
I believe that I only constructed one Apple II that way.
So there you have it. The Apple 1 was never sold as a bare board and a bag of parts. The original 50 sold to the Byte Shop were not hand soldered by either Steve, or any of their friends for a dollar a board.