Sotheby’s plans to auction two pieces of Apple history on June 15 in New York, including a rare document penned by Steve Jobs while working at Atari and an operational Apple I motherboard expected to fetch up to $180,000 USD. An excerpt from Sotheby’s description for the Apple I lot is below, and it claims less than six Apple I’s in working condition are known to exist:
As the first ready-made personal computer, the Apple I signaled a new age in which computing became accessible to the masses. 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.
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As noted by Macenstein, Sotheby’s is auctioning a rare memo penned by Steve Jobs during his days at Atari, which occurred almost two years before the founding of Apple in 1976. We are expecting both items to go for much higher than the estimate, especially because Sotheby’s recently sold Apple’s founding contract for $1.6 million (originally estimated at $150,000).
Excerpts from Sotheby’s auction description, which noted the documents are related to Atari’s World Cup Football game, are below. The corresponding images are above.
This memo describes changes that could be made to Atari’s World Cup Soccer arcade game. These changes were designed to add play variety to the game and to extend the ‘shelf life’ for arcade operators. While the memo is typed on Atari letterhead, it also features a stamp imprinted with the name of Steve Job’s company at the time “All-One Farm Design” and the address of the Jobs family garage( and the birthplace of Apple Computer). The memo features a circuit diagram and a hand written addendum.
After leaving Reed College in the winter of 1974, Steve Jobs began working at Atari (as employee number 40) under the leadership of Nolan Bushnell and chief engineer Al Alcorn. He worked night shifts to improve the designs of existing Atari games, isolated from the colleagues who believed him to be arrogant and offensively Bohemian. He was as unimpressed by his colleagues as they were by him, referring to them regularly as “dumb shits.” However, he was profoundly influenced by 41-year-old Ron Wayne, who had previously started a company and inspired Jobs to do the same. Indeed, Wayne is listed on the original partnership agreement for Apple Computer Company as holding a 10% share, which he soon relinquished. By adding sounds or addressing the durability of hardware, Jobs contributed to the overall experience of the Atari user. Walter Isaacson points out that Jobs “intuitively appreciated the simplicity of Atari’s games. They came with no manual and needed to be uncomplicated enough that a stoned freshman could figure them out.” Jobs carried this lesson with him to Apple, creating technology easily accessible and appealing in its straightforwardness.
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.