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1976 letter calls 21-year-old Steve Jobs a hard bargaining, secretive 'joker'

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Before he became one of the most recognizable people in the world, a 21-year-old Steve Jobs was met with skepticism in Silicon Valley when he was starting Apple.

In a handwritten note, Mike Rose, who ran an advertising agency in Los Altos, Calif., in 1976, expressed concern over Jobs and his partner, Steve Wozniak, who he felt were "flakey" after having met them. The note, brought to light this week by Bloomberg, was written to his business partner. In the letter, Rose referred to Jobs as a "joker."

Then an unknown, Jobs still displayed some of the same characteristics that would eventually become known around the world. Jobs's secretive nature was noted by Rose, who noted that Jobs "wouldn't trust" him.

Jobs met with Rose because he needed someone to print the manual for the Apple I computer, the first product he and Wozniak had created. But Jobs also apparently demonstrated his hard bargaining tactics, as Rose remarked that Jobs "wants it for nothing."

"The note is wonderful in part because it reveals how much Silicon Valley has changed in 35 years," wrote author Leslie Berlin. "In 1976, two guys trying to launch a tech company from a garage in the heart of Silicon Valley were flakes. Today, someone in Rose's position might well ask for a piece of the action -- payment in the form of a small bit of stock, perhaps?"



Jobs didn't end up working with Rose, rejecting his bid for being too high. Instead, the Apple I manual was produced by a typesetter.

A year ago, an Apple I computer in "superb" condition was put up for auction in London. It ended up being sold for $174,000. When it was released in 1976, the Apple I sold for $666.66, and only 200 of them were made. Only 30 to 50 units are believed to still exist.
post #2 of 21
Joker? lol!

Great find. I haven't seen a hand-written note in a long time...
post #3 of 21
Great find, priceless.
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
Long on AAPL so biased
"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
Reply
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoXoM View Post

Joker? lol!

Great find. I haven't seen a hand-written note in a long time...

Very quaint, indeed. I've actually received two hand-written notes today... very odd.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoXoM View Post

Joker? lol!

Great find. I haven't seen a hand-written note in a long time...

Especially that this note is legible. Thanks to computers, texting, etc. most handwritten notes today by adults look like they've been written by 5-year-olds.
post #6 of 21
Another tidbit missed by the great Isaacson. More information about Jobs has been made available on the internet than in his book.
post #7 of 21
Jobs isn't going to remember every interaction he had with everyone over his professional career.

People are going to recollect their interactions with Jobs much more than he could have with all of them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Another tidbit missed by the great Isaacson. More information about Jobs has been made available on the internet than in his book.
post #8 of 21
I contacted the guy at Mactracker. I asked him if he would include the Apple machines for historical purposes. I used an Apple 11 for a while with the two big floppy # 5 drives.
Might be fun for people who don't know about them.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Jobs isn't going to remember every interaction he had with everyone over his professional career.

People are going to recollect their interactions with Jobs much more than he could have with all of them.

This. People get all up in arms about what Isaacson did/did not put in his book, when the majority of content in the book came from Jobs himself. If I ever had the chance to run into Jobs and speak to him, I would have remembered it like it happened yesterday and told my grandkids about it. I doubt he would have even remembered my face the next day.
post #10 of 21
That's funny. in 1976 I was on a project in Oak Ridge and my fellow designers thought I was a JOKER!
Just 'cause that big computer we used was built by electricians and plumbers I commented that I rather have something like a TV screen with pictures on it to tell the computer what to do. I got that in
early 1985, a Mac with 128K of ram.... it was even faster then the monster at OR.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Especially that this note is legible. Thanks to computers, texting, etc. most handwritten notes today by adults look like they've been written by 5-year-olds.

I do find that my handwriting skills have severely diminished in legibility, speed and longevity over the years.

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post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I do find that my handwriting skills have severely diminished in legibility, speed and longevity over the years.

Nice self-observation.

These things catch up with all of us, eventually... \
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Nice self-observation.

These things catch up with all of us, eventually... \

It could just be aging but I'm still pretty young and spry. I think this is mostly from disuse. There are other things I do with my hands that seem as proficient as they've ever been.

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post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Jobs isn't going to remember every interaction he had with everyone over his professional career.

People are going to recollect their interactions with Jobs much more than he could have with all of them.

Indeed. But a good biographer should interview many people and not just the subject. In fact, Jobs told him to do so. Obviously, he could not have found them all. But it's disappointing how little new insight he was able to bring out, either from Jobs or from others. Instead, new insight is emerging from the shadows because of Jobs' passing, most of which are new revelations not found in the book.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

It could just be aging but I'm still pretty young and spry. I think this is mostly from disuse. There are other things I do with my hands that seem as proficient as they've ever been.

LOL. Great, now I have to poke out my minds eye.
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Indeed. But a good biographer should interview many people and not just the subject. In fact, Jobs told him to do so. Obviously, he could not have found them all. But it's disappointing how little new insight he was able to bring out, either from Jobs or from others. Instead, new insight is emerging from the shadows because of Jobs' passing, most of which are new revelations not found in the book.

I do agree with you to some extent, but the idea of the biography was to give an overview of Steve Jobs, not just to people who have been following Apple forever (that would be redundant), but to a broader audience.

The book is not prefect, but it was a nice read and for someone like me who just got onto the Apple bandwagon 3-4 years ago, it had stuff that I didn't know. Aiming the book at people who have been following Apple forever really wasn't the goal. I myself did want some parts to be more detailed, but I can understand that when cramming one man's life (not just his life, but the opinion of everyone else that he interacted with at some point of time) into a single book, something has got to give.
post #17 of 21
The first Apple sold for $666????

Interesting number...

Maybe that's why Steve's eyebrows always looked like horns. Lol
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Indeed. But a good biographer should interview many people and not just the subject.

I haven't even started the biography yet but I'm not expecting every moment of Steve's life to be covered. Nor do I expect every possible perspective in a biography. It isn't possible. Beyond that it is very clear that the biography was rushed due acceleration in Jobscondition.
Quote:
In fact, Jobs told him to do so. Obviously, he could not have found them all. But it's disappointing how little new insight he was able to bring out, either from Jobs or from others.

A couple of points. 1. Do you think Jobs even remembered this bit of negotiation? 2. How many people even have anything they have written back in 76 still hanging around the office?
Quote:
Instead, new insight is emerging from the shadows because of Jobs' passing, most of which are new revelations not found in the book.

Obviously. Why is anyone surprised?
post #19 of 21
WOW, looked up that address listed in the note... and from google maps (on ipad) those are some of the largest houses in a neighbourhood that i have looked at on google maps (yes i guess it's silicon valley, but still...)
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I do find that my handwriting skills have severely diminished in legibility, speed and longevity over the years.

So has mine, but I don't think it has anything to do with the use of computers and keyboards. I think it has more to do with the flexibility of my fingers. I remember my father used to make fun of me for writing in a incredibly small block font style, but it was perfectly readable. Much of the time, I can't even read my own handwriting now.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post

I do agree with you to some extent, but the idea of the biography was to give an overview of Steve Jobs, not just to people who have been following Apple forever (that would be redundant), but to a broader audience.

The book is not prefect, but it was a nice read and for someone like me who just got onto the Apple bandwagon 3-4 years ago, it had stuff that I didn't know. Aiming the book at people who have been following Apple forever really wasn't the goal. I myself did want some parts to be more detailed, but I can understand that when cramming one man's life (not just his life, but the opinion of everyone else that he interacted with at some point of time) into a single book, something has got to give.

Perhaps some biographies are overviews. But not this one. Why do I say that? Isaacson does not write overviews. Nor does he try to cram rich details into a limited # of pages.

You have to look at his past work to appreciate this. When he wrote the biography on Einstein, his motive was to convey insight in a single metaphor - Einstein was trying to find God through physics. With the Jobs bio, he tried to do the same thing - Jobs created what he did but was a jerk. Unfortunately for him, those who knew Jobs already knew that. Isaacson, who did not follow or understand the tech world, was (is?) unaware that his insight was anything but insightful. Ergo, when his motive falls flat, there are scant details to make the bio compelling.
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