BOSTON – On Thursday, March 17, RR Auction will present The Steve Jobs Revolution: Engelbart, Atari, and Apple. This small, specially curated selection traces the history of personal computers through documents and objects — and, specifically, the advent of Steve Jobs and Apple as chief popularizers of such products. View the fully illustrated catalog on LiveAuctioneers.
The sale lineup features prototypes and early examples of some of the most innovative technologies ever conceived, including computer mouses developed by Doug Engelbart, Pong prototypes from the collection of its creator Allan Alcorn, and a sealed first-generation iPod.
A standout lot from the sale is a 1976 Apple Computer check signed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, estimated at $25,000-$50,000. The check is filled out and signed by Apple co-founders is payable to Kierulff Electronics for $3,430, July 15, 1976. Headed “Apple Computer Company,” the check uses Apple’s first official address in Palo Alto — the location of an answering service and mail drop that they used while still operating out of the Jobs family garage.
This check comes from the foundational moment of Apple Computer, today the most valuable company in the world. Three months earlier, on April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne signed the company’s original partnership agreement, which assigned 45% of the company to each of the Steves, and 10% to Wayne. It also required any expenditure larger than $100 to be approved by two of the partners — perhaps the reason that both Jobs and Woz signed this check. Because of the legal structure of the partnership, all three could be held personally liable for any of the company’s debts. Jobs and Woz were effectively penniless; Jobs sold his beloved Volkswagen Bus and Woz sold his prized HP-65 pocket calculator to raise about $1,300 in operating capital.
Wayne was older and more experienced in the business world. He had assets to protect and sold back his share in the partnership for the meager sum of $800 just days later. Jobs and Woz were on their own to finance the development, production and sales of the Apple-1.
Based on the date of this check, it likely represents payment for parts used in putting together the second batch of Apple-1 Computers.
“As a document signed by Apple’s famed co-founders in the year of the company’s origin, and directly connected with the production of the Apple-1 Computer, this is an unparalleled, museum-quality piece,” said Bobby Livingston Executive VP at RR Auction.
Few Apple autographs of such great significance have ever come to auction: this check might be rivaled only by the original partnership agreement, which achieved a $1.5 million result in 2011.
Additional autograph highlights from the auction that chronicle the life of Steve Jobs include a handwritten poem he inscribed in a 1971 high school yearbook. It carries an estimate of $50,000-$75,000.
A 1973 job application for Atari, which Steve Jobs filled out by hand, bears the estimate of $300,000-$350,000.
Also, a Steve Jobs-signed example of Macworld #1 has an estimate of $50,000-$75,000.
Online bidding for The Steve Jobs Revolution: Engelbart, Atari, and Apple by RR Auction began February 14 and will conclude March 17. For more information, go to www.rrauction.com.
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