Apple Computer’s Founding Contract Sold for $1.59 Million; Listen to the Bidding

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Update Dec 14 The documents originally belonged to Ronald Wayne, an original partner of Jobs and Wozniak who bowed out only 11 days after incorporating (ouch). According to Bloomberg, Wayne sold the papers for several thousand dollars (ouch again) in 1994 to Wade Saadi, who cashed in yesterday. Watch the Bloomberg interview with Saadi here.

Wayne has said he has no regrets about bowing out of Apple. Watch him interviewed 11 minutes into this PBS documentary.

Update 2 p.m. When the auctioner’s fee is included, Bloomberg pegs the price at $1.59 million, almost a quarter-millon more than the final bid.

No word yet on who bought it.

Bloomberg includes this interesting tidbit about contract signee Ronald Wayne, who was the third founder of Apple along with Jobs and Wozniak:

Eleven days after signing the contract, Wayne withdrew as a partner. The move is documented by a County of Santa Clara, California, statement and an amendment to the contract, both of which were included in the Sotheby’s lot. Wayne received $800 for relinquishing his 10 percent ownership of Apple, according to the document. He subsequently received an additional payment of $1,500, according to Sotheby’s.

In an interview with Peter Jon Shuler a few months ago, Apple employee No. 12 Dan Kottke had this to say about Wayne’s involvement with Apple:

…then there was the small item of the $30,000 worth of small parts that needed to be ordered. That was the point at which Ron Wayne, who was the third founding partner, got cold feet, because he had a mortgage to pay, unlike these 2 kids. He felt like he was the adult and he couldn’t keep up with these guys. When Steve Jobs told him he had ordered $30,000 worth of parts, that was a lot of money, and Ron backed out.

I guess he’s sort of the Pete Best of the personal computer age…

Original post For the true SteveJobsaphilic, Sotheby’s today auctioned off the April 1, 1976 contract, signed by Jobs, Woz, and Ronald Wayne, which established Apple as a company. Sotheby’s estimated the value of the two typed documents — Lot 241 — at between $100-$150,000, but the bidding far surpassed that price with the winning bidding coming in at $1,350,000 $1.59 million.

Man, hope they threw in an iPad or something…

KQED newscaster Joshua Johnson was the only person in the office geeky enough to not only notice this was going on, but to actually record it. Catch all the thrilling action below. We’re working on getting John Madden to do a dramatic re-enactment…

Audio: Listen to the bidding at Sotheby’s :http://ww2.kqed.org/news/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2011/12/sohtebys.mp3|titles=sohtebys

Also, for a little background on the earliest days of Apple, check out Peter Jon Shuler’s interviews with company employee No. 12 Dan Kottke.

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Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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