Rare Apple PowerBook laptop signed by Steve Jobs up for auction

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Steve Jobs laptop signed
It could be yours. For a whole bunch of cash.
Photo: RR Auction/Apple Insider

Steve Jobs’ autograph is rare because a) he was Steve Jobs and b) because he reportedly hated signing autographs. That makes any opportunity to get your hands on the John Hancock of Apple’s late CEO and co-founder pretty exciting.

An upcoming auction promises one of the more interesting Jobs autographs I’ve seen. RR Auctions is auctioning off a mid-1990s PowerBook 190cs, signed by Jobs in black felt tip. Its starting price? A mere $1,000 — although you can expect it to sell for many, many times that figure.

The laptop is being auctioned off through the RR Auctions website. Apple Insider spotted the laptop in the auction house’s latest brochure. It does not appear to be up on the company’s website just yet.

The PowerBook 190cs bears the words “Doc, Happy Computing, Steve Jobs” signed in black pen. The previous owner apparently worked on audio on the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life. That probably explains how he was able to get the autograph from Apple and Pixar’s late CEO, who is known for being somewhat autograph shy.

The most interesting detail for me in all of this is that Jobs was seemingly willing to sign a Mac that he had not overseen the making of. The PowerBook 190cs was released in August 1995 and discontinued October 1996. Jobs returned to Apple at the very end of 1996 after a decade in the wilderness, during which he founded NeXT and oversaw the rise of Pixar. He didn’t become interim Apple CEO until September 1997.

The story behind it is worth the price of admission

Jobs wasn’t exactly a big fan of Apple during his years outside the company. On one occasion he was invited to speak to a group of students, one of whom asked him to sign an Apple Extended Keyboard. Instead of signing it and moving on, Jobs ranted about how “this keyboard represents everything about Apple that I hate.” He then began pulling off the F function keys, telling the students, “I’m changing the world, one keyboard at a time.”

The PowerBook 190cs also had function keys. (To be fair, Jobs’ stance on them clearly softened, since Apple never wound up getting rid of them even after he was back running the show.) However, it seems that Jobs was clearly happy enough to sign on this particular.

It would be fascinating to know when this particular keyboard was signed. According to Wikipedia, initial work on A Bug’s Life started sometime around 1994 or 1995. It was released in 1998, after Jobs had been back at Apple for a while.

Did the engineer in question ask Jobs to sign a laptop made by a company which had booted Steve out? Did they ask him to sign the laptop made by his current company, but prior to his return? The answer to that story seems worth $1,000 in itself. Hey, maybe Jobs was just still in a good mood about Pixar making him a billionaire.

RR Auction’s Steve Jobs Auction is scheduled to open on March 12. This is just one of the many Jobs-related lots that will be available.