In 1976 Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne signed a contract to create Apple Computer Co. Next month, that three-page document goes on sale at Sotheby’s as part of their fine books and manuscripts auction. After its signing, the document passed into the possession of Wayne, who sold his stake in Apple just two weeks after signing. Some time afterward he sold the contract to a documents dealer. In the mid-1990s, when Apple was at death’s door before Jobs’ fabled return to the company, that dealer sold it to the current owner.
At the time of the contract’s signing, Jobs was a technician working for Atari, where he met Wayne. Wayne was instrumental in helping to bring Wozniak, a close friend of Jobs, into the company. He also drew the first version of the Apple logo, and helped to write the first Apple I manual.
The document will be sold at Sotheby’s on December 13th (via Bloomberg). Along with the contract, dated April 1st, the lot (pictured below) includes an amendment dated April 12th making minor changes and noting Wayne’s sale of his stake in the company, and the official Santa Clara county acknowledgement of the amendment to the contract.
The timing of the sale is certainly not coincidental. The recent death of Steve Jobs certainly makes the contract considerably more valuable than it might have been only a few months ago. One Twitter user takes a humorous view of the timing of the sale, however, noting that Wayne sold both his stake in the company and the contract itself before either became valuable. Wayne’s 10% stake, which he sold for $2,300 in 1976, would today be worth several billion dollars.