Before Steve Jobs came up with the iPhone or even the Apple II, he designed paddles for ball-flipping games at Atari where the scruffy 19-year-old was employed to improve game design.
Sotheby's New York will auction off a document dating from Jobs's time there: a 1974 report that Jobs wrote for his boss suggesting ways to improve arcade game World Cup.
According to Jobs' biography, his Atari days are most notable for his clashes with colleagues, who he considered to be "dumb shits". He was made to work night shifts there partly because he was in a phase of refusing to wash and so he apparently smelt bad, causing complaints from his co-workers.
But Jobs obviously did some work at Atari too, with the document laying out his ideas for improving player experience. The typed four-page document includes three circuit designs in pencil and additional designs for the paddles and alignment ofﾠplayers defending a soccer goal.
The catalogue entry for the Atari memo reads:
The present report, written for his supervisor Stephen Bristow, was meant to improve the functionality and fun of World Cup, a coin arcade-game with four simple buttons and an evolution from Atari's Pong game. Job's report is stamped "All-One Farm Design," a name appropriated from the commune he frequented at the time, and the address of the Jobs family in Los Altos. At the bottom of the stamp is the Buddhist mantra, gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdl.
Sotheby's estimates that the memo will go for $10,000 to $15,000.
Also on sale in an associated lot is a working Apple I motherboard complete with a cassette – the machine is believed to be one of only 50 existing Apple Is and one of only six that are known to work.
The manual and packaging feature the Apple logo as it was pre-redesign. The Apple I is estimated to go for $120,00 to $180,000. The auction will be held at Sotheby's New York on 15 June. ®