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There’s a reason this Apple II manual auctioned for nearly $800K

On the face of it, the spiral-bound Apple II manual from decades ago doesn’t look anything special. It even has “a few small stains on the front cover,” according to Boston-based RR Auction, which recently put the 196-page booklet under the hammer.

But turn to its table of contents and on the opposite page, you’ll find a note scrawled in blue ink. Penned and signed by Steve Jobs. Yes, that Steve Jobs.

It reads: “Julian, Your generation is the first to grow up with computers. Go change the world! steven jobs, 1980.” It’s also signed by Mike Markkula, an early Apple investor and the company’s second CEO.

A note written in 1980 by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The manual auctioned for a whopping $787,484 — presumably because of Jobs’ message rather than someone’s desperate search for instructions on how to operate their ancient Apple II computer.

The winning bid was made by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who will add the artifact to the Jim Irsay Collection featuring a range of historic and culturally significant pieces.

“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 response to his latest purchase, adding that the late Apple co-founder was “a truly transformative figure who changed the way in which human beings think, do business, and interact on a daily basis.”

The story behind the message

On its website, RR Auction said the inscription, which was penned by Jobs in the same year Apple floated on the stock market, “powerfully conveys his grand ambition and vision for the future of Apple and personal computing as a whole,” adding that when he signed it, Jobs was in the U.K. promoting the then-fledgling company as he grew it “from Cupertino start-up to global phenomenon.”

And in case you’re thinking that any ol’ fella could’ve written it, the artifact is accompanied by various documents confirming its authenticity, as well as a letter of provenance from the original recipient, Julian Brewer, whose father, Mike Brewer, negotiated exclusive distribution rights for Apple in the U.K. in 1979.

Julian was a teen when Jobs signed the manual. He recalls, “I was sitting in my bedroom writing games on my Apple II when Dad called me down to meet some guests. 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.”

The Apple II, which appears at number 4 in Digital Trends’ recently compiled chart of the most important personal computers ever made, was designed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The machine launched in 1977 and became the tech giant’s first truly mass-market personal computer while also helping to transform the global PC market.

Remarkably, an Apple II machine still powers an exhibit at a prominent museum in Russia. Following the auction, the museum owner will no doubt be leafing frantically through the computer’s manual in the hope of finding another note penned by Jobs.

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Trevor Mogg
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