Steve Jobs’ note in Apple II manual jacks auction price to almost $800K

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An Apple II manual from 1980 inscribed by Steve Jobs sold at auction for nearly $800,000.
An Apple II manual from 1980 inscribed by Steve Jobs sold at auction for nearly $800,000.
Photo: RR Auction

An old, spiral-bound, somewhat stained Apple II computer manual from 1980 went under the hammer at auction the other day. When all was said and done, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had the winning bid for the thing — $787,484.

Why so much? The manual contained not only a relatively rare signature by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, but an extremely rare inscription.

Otherwise, the manual details the Apple II’s  technical architecture and includes a fold-out schematic of the computer’s main logic board.

A rare Steve Jobs inscription with a bit of a story

RR Auction Lot 7001, “Steve Jobs Inscribed and Signed Apple II Manual,” attracted 46 bids and sold for $787,484. The lot’s subtitle read, “Rare Apple II manual, prophetically inscribed and signed by Steve Jobs in 1980.”

Jobs’ inscription in the 196-page manual reads, “Julian, Your generation is the first to grow up with computers. Go change the world!” The signatures read “steven jobs 1980” and “Mike Markkula 1980.” Markkula was an early Apple investor and the company’s second CEO.

“Julian” is Julian Brewer, at the time the teenaged son of Michael Brewer, who negotiated exclusive distribution rights for Apple in the U.K. in 1979 and became the U.K. division’s managing director.

Jobs and Markkula were in the U.K. on a promotional tour for Apple when they visited the Brewers and young Julian got them to sign his Apple II manual.

“I was sitting in my bedroom writing games on my Apple II when Dad called me down to meet some guests,” Julian is quoted as saying in the auction materials. “To my amazement it was Steve Jobs and Mike Markkula. I had the manual with me and only later understood how rare it was for Jobs to sign anything, let alone to write an inscription like this. He got on well with Dad, so I feel the inscription was made with care.”

Boston-based RR Auction said letters of authenticity and provenance accompanied the manual, in addition to  associated images. Those included Jobs’ telex welcoming Brewer to Apple, his Apple Computer business card and young Julian in an Apple T-shirt.

Winning bid from Jim Irsay

Jim Orsay made the winning bid. He owns the Indianapolis Colts NFL football team. He said he planned to add the Apple II manual to the Jim Irsay Collection, which includes a variety of historic and culturally significant objects.

“When we think of the greatest, most innovative minds of the past two centuries, Steve Jobs must certainly be included among them,” Irsay said in a statement provided to the auction house. “Jobs was a truly transformative figure who changed the way in which human beings think, do business and interact on a daily basis.”

Apple II and the company’s growth

Released in 1977, the Apple II became the company’s first successful product. It’s remembered as one of the first computers made for the mass market. VisiCalc, the first computer spreadsheet, was written for the Apple II in 1979. It expanded the machine’s acceptance in the business market.

“Whereas the Apple I was primarily for hobbyists, with less than 200 units made, the Apple II truly ‘changed the world’ by giving around 6 million homes and businesses their first taste of personal computing. Apple II’s revenues supported Apple’s successful floatation, the biggest tech IPO of the time,” RR Auction said.

Other items

The old Apple II computer manual wasn’t the only big-ticket item under the hammer. RR Auction said other auctioned items included Steve Jobs’ bomber jacket. It sold for $66,466. A Jobs and Steve Wozniak-signed issue of Macworld #1 went for $201,021. And a Jobs NeXTSTEP software package took in $220,235.

Over the years, many auctions have brought in big bucks for Apple and Steve Jobs-related items, as Cult of Mac has reported.