The Apple II manual, a rare collector’s item described and signed in 1980 by the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, was auctioned on August 19 for a whopping $787,484 (about Rs. 5.85 crores). The buyer is Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts American football team. Boston-based RR Auction sold the 41-year-old Apple II Reference Manual last week. The 196-page manual was written in blue ink and signed opposite the “Table of Contents” by Mike Markkula, the former angel investor and second Apple CEO, by Jobs and Apple. The manual contains technical details of the architecture and operation of Apple II.
Jobs had written, “Julian, your generation is the first to grow up with computers. Go change the world! Steven Jobs, 1980.” He was referring to Julian Brewer, whose father Michael negotiated exclusive distribution rights for Apple in the UK in 1979.
In a note on its website, RR Auction stated that “Jobs’ inscription, written in the year of Apple’s IPO, powerfully expresses his grand ambition and vision for the future of Apple Computer, Inc. and personal computing as a whole.” It adds that when Jobs and Markkula signed the Apple II manual, they were in the UK promoting the company.
The note also states that the manual was “in fine condition, with a few small spots on the front cover”.
The auction house also sold a few other items related to Jobs. Among the other items sold was a signed letter from Jobs in which he wrote, “I’m afraid I’m not signing any signatures,” which received 55 bids and sold for $479,939 (approximately Rs. 3.56 crores).
Brewer, who was a teenager when Jobs signed the manual, was quoted by RR Auction as saying, “I was sitting in my bedroom writing games on my Apple II when Dad called me to meet some guys. To my surprise, it was Steve. Jobs and Mike Markkula I had the manual with me and only realized later how rare it was for Jobs to sign anything let alone write an inscription like this He got on well with Dad so I the feeling that the inscription is made with care.”
For the then struggling company, Apple II—one of the first computers to be mass-marketed—became one of its biggest products.
Brewer says he also met Jobs on another occasion when he accompanied his father on a visit to the Apple office in California. “I had just bought an Apple II game called ‘Temple of Apshai’ and couldn’t wait to play it at home in the UK. Dad took me to an office where Steve sat on his desk in his sandals. I couldn’t believe my luck when he took me to an Apple II and let me load and play the game!”
Jobs passed away in 2011. In recent years, the prices of anything signed by him have skyrocketed.
While expressing what the Apple II manual meant to him, Irsay said in a statement to the auction house that Jobs was “one of the most innovative minds of the past two centuries.”