Sotheby's To Auction Off Pieces Of Apple's History
May 29, 2012

Sotheby’s To Auction Off Pieces Of Apple’s History

Michael Harper for

Those of you who know your Apple history know the path Steve Jobs traveled which led him to co-found a little start-up in his parents´ garage with Steve Wozniak.

After dropping out – and then dropping in – of Portland, Oregon´s Reed College, Jobs traveled back to his home in California and took a job with popular game maker Atari. After ruffling his co-workers' feathers with his bristled demeanor and less than pleasing body odor, management saw fit to move him to the overnight shift so he could focus on his work without being bothered by anyone, or having his musk bother anyone else.

The rest is all a part of Apple-lore. Jobs left Atari once to go on a pilgrimage to India, met Wozniak, began creating prank toys and Blue Boxes, decided to go into business with Woz, and then founded Apple Computer and created the Apple I. As Jobs has passed, many artifacts from his life and documents bearing his signature have come to the surface, pleasing many Apple fans and Job admirers who want to collect these small pieces of history.

Now, some hand-written memos from the Atari days and one of the few working Apple I's in existence are being auctioned at Sotheby's this June.

The handwritten memo in question was penned by a 19-year-old Jobs during his tenure at Atari. In it, Jobs is explaining to his supervisor Steven Bristow how he felt the World Cup Football game could be improved by increasing “functionality and fun.”

Sotheby´s expects the memo to sell for $10,000 to $15,000.

According to the Sotheby´s item description: “The present report written for his supervisor Stephen Bristow, was meant to improve the functionality and fun of World Cup, a coin arcade-game with four simple buttons and an evolution from Atari's Pong game. Job's report is stamped "All-One Farm Design," a name appropriated from the commune he frequented at the time, and the address of the Jobs family in Los Altos. At the bottom of the stamp is the Buddhist mantra, gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdl. Manuscript gaming diagrams by Jobs from his early years in the industry are rare.”

Sotheby´s is also auctioning off the first product ever released by the Steve´s, the Apple I computer. The Apple I was groundbreaking at the time as it was the first computer to come fully wired and ready to be hooked up to a keyboard, power source and television screen. Every Apple I was hand-wired by Woz, as he and Jobs managed to sell 50 of these units to a small chain of computing stores called The Byte Shop. Jobs and Woz made an extra 50 units to sell to friends and another 100 units to sell through their retail accounts.

According to Sotheby´s, “The interface of circuitry and software that Woz created enabled users to type letters with 'a human-typable keyboard instead of a stupid, cryptic front panel with a bunch of lights and switches,' as he explained to the Homebrew Computer Club. Even so, it was sold without a keyboard, monitor, case, or power supply. An exceptionally rare, working example with original Apple cassette interface, operation manuals and a rare BASIC Users' Manual. It is thought that fewer than 50 Apple I Computers survive, with only 6 known to be in working condition.”

Sotheby´s expects this incredibly rare piece of computing history to sell for $120,000 to $150,000.

In December, Sotheby´s sold the founding documents of Apple Computer for $1.6 million to an unidentified telephone buyer.