Handmade Apple-1 and Ad Penned by Steve Jobs Fetch $400K at Auction

Steve Jobs Apple 1 Handwritten Ad Credit: RR Auction
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From vintage Apple-1 computers and original iPods or Apple sneakers, memorabilia from the company’s early years and most iconic products often fetch staggering amounts of money whenever they come up for auction. Now, we can add a 45-year-old advertisement to that list.

In this case, it’s the original draft of an ad for the Apple-1 Computer. However, what makes this one particularly special is that it was penned by the hand of none other than legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs himself.

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The historic artifact from the earliest days of Apple’s history went up for auction this summer at Boston-based RR Auction as part of an extensive lot of other Apple paraphernalia ranging from Apple II logic boards and prototype mice to various sealed first-generation iPods and even a limited-edition Lisa Pin and Tie Tack.

While most of the items sold for under $10,000, the Jobs-written Apple-1 ad went for a staggering final bid of $175,759 — well above the $30K that the auction house had estimated it would bring in.

“The historic artifact, a rough draft specification sheet for the groundbreaking Apple-1, unveils Steve Jobs’ meticulous attention to detail and entrepreneurial foresight. The advertisement sheet bears Jobs’ full signature in lowercase print, “steven jobs.” It features contact information, including his parents’ home address and phone number—historically, the original headquarters of the Apple Computer Company.”

The draft is surprisingly technical compared to the Apple ads of today and uncharacteristic of the Jobs we knew in more recent years, who much preferred to talk more about what Apple’s products could do for customers than what kind of specs were packed inside. However, in those early days, Jobs spoke instead of the processors that could be used in the Apple-1, listing a 6800, 6501, or 6502 and recommending the latter two due to the availability of the BASIC programming language. Jobs also wrote about the ability to expand the RAM to a whopping 65K via an edge connector with 58 integrated circuits. Jobs even refers to “basic on the way(ROM),” revealing that this Apple II feature was already in the Apple team’s mind in the early stages.

Steve Jobs Apple 1 Handwritten Ad full page

As for the price Apple wanted to charge for this remarkable piece of technology? Jobs cites “a modest $75 for the ‘board only + manual,’ which he deems a ‘real deal.’”

RR Auction notes that “the provenance of this extraordinary piece stems from a close friend of Steve Jobs,” while adding that Apple historian Corey Cohen has confirmed that it matches the original advertisement for the Apple-1 that was published in the July 1976 edition of Interface Magazine — making it the first big public ad that Apple Computer even ran.

Steve Jobs Apple 1 Handwritten Ad polaroids

In addition to the handwritten draft, the auction includes two glossy Polaroids taken at The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, showing a fully assembled Apple-1 system, with board, keyboard, monitor, and screen showing Apple Basic running. What’s particularly fun about these is the handwritten scribble on one of the photos where Jobs notes, “fuzzy because camera wiggled.”

The ad for the Apple-1 took second place in the lot to a fully operational handmade Apple-1 computer signed by Apple’s other co-founder, Steve Wozniak, which sold for $223,520. However, that was only a little over the $200K it was expected to fetch, making the handwritten ad draft the show’s standout star.

Apple 1 Handmade Computer

Similarly, the lot also included the Jobs and Wozniak-signed Apple check we reported on last month. That sold for the third-highest amount at $135,261, although expectations had been higher for that one, with the auction house estimating that it would bring at least $50,000 in at auction. While it easily surpassed that expectation, the Apple-1 ad still did better, fetching nearly six times what the auction house hoped to get.

Jobs Wozniak Apple Cheque No 2

Among the other top-selling items was an original factory-sealed 8GB iPhone that went for $55,999. While that’s not nearly as much as the 4GB model that sold for $190K earlier this year, it’s not bad when you consider how much more common the 8GB version is; other recent 8GB iPhone auctions fetched $63,356 and $40,320, with the latter likely suffering in price due to a small hole in the plastic wrapping.

Original iPhone 8GB RRAuction 673 Aug 2023

While most of the items in the lot were Apple-related, there were a few other pieces of vintage technology on offer, including a Benedix G-15, the first mini-computer from 1956, that sold for $62,461, plus a sealed Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) with a Super Mario Bros. Game Pak that went for an even $50K.

3477083 1 Jobs Typed Letter Signed to Student 5005

Other mint-condition Apple products included a sealed first-generation iPod mini ($4,886), a sealed first-generation iPod touch ($4,533), and a sealed first-generation iPod shuffle ($3,826). A lot of other Jobs and Apple memorabilia were on offer as well, including “Steven P. Jobs” and “Steve Jobs” business cards from his time at NeXT and Pixar, which fetched $4,520 and $3,345, respectively, a real estate document for Yamhill Country, Oregon — the home to the original ‘Apple’ orchard — signed by Steve Jobs that went for $12,501, and a “charming” 1983 letter from Steve Jobs encouraging a student getting started in electronics that brought in $16,865.

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