Before landing a job at Atari and going on to found Apple with Steve Wozniak soon thereafter, Steve Jobs was just sort of hanging around Reed College in Oregon. He had dropped out of school due to tight finances but was still auditing a few decidedly non-technical classes in subjects like Dance and Shakespeare. 

At some point in 1973, just three years before the start of Apple, Jobs filled out a very basic job application questionnaire. No specific opening is mentioned, but the form seems to be something used for on-campus positions.

The application is devoid of the meticulous attention to detail that would come to define Jobs' Apple product launches years later, although you might argue that Apple's affinity for simplicity is evidenced by Jobs very simple and straight-forward responses.

For his address he simply wrote "reed college"; for phone he put "none"; and in response to 'Access to transportation?' he entered "possible, but not probable."

In other words he makes it seemingly impossible for his would-be employers to contact him while failing to instill much confidence that he could ever make it in to work anyhow.

Under "special abilities," Jobs wrote: "electronics tech or design engineer. digital.--from Bay near Hewitt-Packard [sic]."

Here Jobs indicates the interests that would eventually make him an icon but manages to misspell the name of one of the most iconic tech companies of the era.

Frankly, the whole thing is a train wreck, no matter how powerful the Jobsian "reality distortion field" that you might try to view it through. And yet, it's expected to fetch $50,000 or more as part of a pop culture auction to be held online in March.

What makes a form that Jobs clearly put nearly no thought or effort into so valuable? Besides the fact that it's an intriguing look into the humble beginnings of a legend, it's actually the simple hand-scrawled signature next to the entry for "Name" at the top of the form.

"Steve Jobs was a notoriously difficult signer," explained Bobby Livingston, executive vice president at RR Auction. "His autograph is incredibly scarce among contemporary figures."

Another item in the same auction is a Mac OS X technical manual signed by Jobs. The original owner of the manual, Frans Susilo, explained that Jobs initially refused the request to sign it but agreed after "a bit of cajoling."

Although worn, the autographed manual is expected to fetch over $25,000.

We are living in a largely digital world that Jobs helped to create, making his analog signature all the more rare and valuable, even when it is attached to one of Jobs' more embarrassing efforts (or lack thereof).

Published on: Feb 25, 2018