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Steve Jobs’ hand-written note sells for £138,000

The note outlines the specs of Apple’s first computers (RR Auctions)
The note outlines the specs of Apple’s first computers (RR Auctions)

A handwritten draft of an Apple computer advert written by Steve Jobs has sold for almost £140,000 ($175,759) online.

The advert, written around 1976, was part of an RR auction with an estimate of $30,000 (£24,000), but rocketed way past that mark.

This historical artefact is from the early days of Apple, proved by the address listed at the bottom, which is for Jobs’s family home. The company famously began in Jobs’s parents’ garage.

The advert notes outline the specs of the Apple-1, a personal computer designed by Steve Wozniak and released in 1976. They describe the PC as “a real deal” at “$75”, although the actual Apple-1 was sold to the public for $666.66 (around £530).

An advert for the machine from the July 1976 issue of Interface magazine was published as part of the auction listing, to show how closely the eventual ad aligned with Jobs’s original hand-written notes. It boasts “on-board RAM capacity of 8K bytes,” where today’s more humble laptops might have 8GB RAM: a million times the amount.

As part of the listing, the winning bidder will also receive a couple of Polaroid pictures of an Apple-1 computer working. The seller says they became friends with Jobs at school, in 1968, and got to witness moments from the birth of Apple first-hand.

“During the time that the Apple 1 was in progress, I visited Steve several times (Christmas of 1975, spring break 1976, and summer of 1976) and saw computers being tested in boxes in the garage,” they write.

“It was during one of these visits that Steve gave me a Polaroid photo of the computer, a Polaroid screenshot of Apple 1 Basic, and a handwritten offer of bare boards for $75 each.”

A short history of Apple

In another auction that ended on the same day, an actual Apple-1 computer signed by designer Steve Wozniak sold for £177,000 ($223,520).

The listing suggests the handmade computer is fully working, 43 years after it was purchased in 1980. In 2021, one of these early Apple computers sold for an even higher figure, upwards of £300,000 by today’s exchange rate, as reported by the BBC.

An estimated 200 Apple-1 computers were made by Jobs and Wozniak, but these would spur the development of the Apple II. It was released in 1977, and the wider Apple II series would go on to sell an estimated six million units over its 16-year production lifespan.

It would outlast Jobs’s initial tenure in the company, too, as he was fired in 1985 following major disagreements with then-CEO John Sculley. Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, after his computing company NeXT was acquired.

This was a time when Apple was close to bankruptcy, following the failure of multiple products including the Newton PDA.

A year after Jobs became CEO, Apple announced the first iMac, in May 1998, which can be considered a key turning point for the company. It bore the iMac’s famous colour accents, attributed to Apple’s then chief design officer Jony Ive.