1976 Apple Contract with Steve Jobs Signature Up For Sale

An original copy of the 1976 contract establishing Apple as a corporation is up for sale in an auction. The contract was signed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne, and this copy was originally the property of Mr. Wayne. Sotheby’s auction house expects the auction to bring in between US$100,000 and $150,000.

Apple Founding Contract

Documents Being Auctioned
Note that Mr. Jobs signed as “steven p. jobs,” with no capital letters
(Click the image for a larger version)

Ronald Wayne is sometimes called the forgotten Apple cofounder because he left the company after only a few weeks. He was brought into the company by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to serve as adult supervision for the brand new company, and his 10% ownership stake was designed to serve as a tie-breaker for the two Steves.

In today’s market, that 10% stake would be worth billions, but Mr. Wayne told The San Jose Mercury News in June that he has no regrets about selling his portion of the company back to the other two cofounders for $800.

That may have to be the case when it comes to this auction, as well. While the copy of the contract was originally Mr. Wayne’s, the unnamed person auctioning it is not Mr. Wayne. Instead, the seller obtained it from a manuscript dealer in the mid-1990s, before Mr. Jobs came back to Apple.

“It was right before Jobs rejoined Apple,” the consignor told Businessweek. “At the time, everyone thought that Apple was pretty much finished.”

With the passing of Steve Jobs, however, said consignor decided that now was a good time to resell the document, which is why Sotheby’s expects it to fetch so much at auction. The contracts are lot 241 in Sotheby’s Fine Books & Manuscripts auction scheduled for December 13th, 2011.

Other items in the auction include a bowler hat owned by Charlie Chap, an 1859 copy of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, a signed photograph of Harry Houdini, a letter signed by Voltaire, a first edition of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, a copy of Ian Fleming’s Gold Finger inscribed to Raymond Chandler (there are several books from Raymond Chandler’s personal collection in the auction), a couple of copies of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, and much, much more. If you’re looking to buy, bring a bank account with lots and lots of zeros.