Steve Jobs may no longer be with us but the cult of Apple persists as fanbois haemorrhage money to own pieces from the company's past.
Cupertino relics are known to fetch eye-watering sums at auction, like the Apple-1 that went for a stonking $375,000 in 2018, or indeed the early consumer computer's documentation, which sold for almost $13,000 last year by itself.
But scruffy notes by Apple's other founding Steve – Wozniak – for a prototype of the Apple II home computer have dwarfed them all by raking in a massive $630,272.50 during online bidding led by Boston-based RR Auctions between 10 and 17 December.
That comes to $27,403 per page of doodles and diagrams about the Apple II's breadboard, which includes "five pages of circuit schematics and notes on sheets of graphing paper; six photocopied pages headed 'Bus Sources,' 'System Timing,' 'Display,' 'Sync Timing & Adr. Gen,' and 'Timing,' featuring several annotations; and a 12-page handwritten programming instruction guide consisting of 28 detailed steps." You can see one of these fabled rags below.
"These documents not only helped change computers from building-sized behemoths to friendly desktop devices but likewise ushered in the personal computer revolution in April 1977," a spokesperson for RR Auctions said.
The brain dump was accompanied by a signed letter of provenance by the Woz, saying:
These documents, circa 1975, are my original Apple II prototype schematics and programming instructions. They are precious. On these work-in-progress diagrams, you can even see my breadboarding technique, where I'd go over drawn connections in red as I soldered the wires in. At the time, I favored using a purple felt tip pen for writing, so it's interesting to see these notes decades on. The prototype was hand-wired while I was still an engineer at Hewlett-Packard's Advanced Product Division, where I was involved in the design of hand-held calculators.
Bobby Livingston, executive veep at RR Auctions, commented: "Steve Wozniak's historic schematics and notes truly represent the genesis of mainstream personal computing that changed how the world forever works, plays, and communicates."
The buyer, a private collector, wished to remain anonymous.
Another lot by the same firm also broke records. A fully operational Apple-1 housed in a rare original box signed by designer Wozniak was bought by Rally, an investment platform for rare collectibles, for $736,862 – almost double what similar auctions have won.
As we know, the Apple-1 was a bare circuit board sold as a kit to be completed by electronics hobbyists. Woz alone designed the hardware, circuit board designs, and operating system for the computer, and first demonstrated the Apple-1 at a meeting of Palo Alto's Home-brew Computer Club in July 1976. Over about 10 months, Jobs and Wozniak produced about 200 Apple-1 computers and sold 175 of them.
"The market for Steve Jobs and Apple-related memorabilia continues to perform exceedingly well," noted lord of the understatement Livingston. "Our consignor is excited that the Apple-1 is going to a good home where it will be well preserved and shared with hundreds of Apple enthusiasts who otherwise would never have the opportunity to own the computer that changed the world."
Fitz Tepper, operations veep at buyer Rally, added: "We are thrilled to offer our community of investors the opportunity to buy shares of this one-of-a-kind item."
The lot had some other retro goodies thrown in alongside the board and signed box – an original Apple Cassette Interface (ACI); original Apple-1 Operation Manual; original Apple Cassette Interface manual; a vintage Apple-1 power supply; Datanetics keyboard in a wooden case; 1976 Sanyo monitor; and Panasonic cassette player.
Other highlights from the sale included a Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak-signed "Battleship" keyboard for $74,535; Douglas Engelbart's three-button XY mouse – like that used in The Mother Of All Demos – for $34,478; Jobs' "insanely great" job offer letter to Del Yocam for $32,893; Wozniak's custom-made Apple rainbow glasses for $18,972 (above); and Jobs' signed Monsters, Inc. cue sheet for $12,501. ®