Sotheby’s Auctions Off Steve Jobs Memo From Atari Days [Gallery]

Sotheby’s Auctions Off Steve Jobs Memo From Atari Days [Gallery]

Auction house Sothebys has just posted a memo written by Steve Jobs to his co-workers at Atari, where he worked before starting Apple. The memo was written to his then-supervisor Stephen Bristow, and suggested changes Jobs had for Atari’s World Cup Soccer arcade game to extend the shelf life for arcade owners.

Funnily enough, while the memo is typed on Atari letterhead, it includes a stamp with the name of Steve’s company, “All-One Farm Design” and the address of the garage in which he and friend Steve Wozniak would soon create history with Apple Computer. Imagine if he’d gone ahead with designing farms?

From the Sothebys catalogue itself:

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 last time Sothebys sold a Steve Jobs document was in December of 2011. It sold for $1.6 million.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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