Letter from Jobs to Dave [Kominiak] Being a Sales Pitch for the Original Apple-1 Computers, 5 October 1976
December 13, 08:46 PM GMT
20,000 - 30,000 USD
Typed letter signed ("Steven Jobs,") in brown ink, to Dave [Kominiak], Palo Alto, CA, October 5, 1976.
1 page on single sheet of National Brand green graph paper (8 1/2 x 11 in.). Manuscript correction in brown ink in Jobs' hand.
[WITH]: Original Apple Computer Company ad sheet, printed recto/verso, with manuscript price notations in brown ink in Jobs' hand. [AND]: Apple-1 Operation Manual. Palo Alto, California: Apple Computer Company, . 12 pp., including folding diagrams (8 1/2 x 11 in.). Stapled at spine in original printed wrappers. [AND]: Apple-1 Cassette Interface. [Palo Alto, California: Apple Computer Company, 1976] 8 pp., (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.), stapled at spine in original printed self-wraps. All housed together in original Apple Computer Inc. folder with Rainbow apple logo to front cover.
ONE OF THE EARLIEST LETTERS TO BE PENNED BY JOBS ON BEHALF OF APPLE — "I AM VERY INTERESTED IN SELLING APPLES TO YOUR STORE."
Every successful CEO has to start somewhere, and Steve Jobs was no different. Now revered for his uncanny sales acumen and visionary approach to customer experience, here we see a 21-year-old Jobs hustling to sell a handful of computers to Dave Kominiak, owner of the Computer Learning Exchange in Hammond, Indiana. This letter and the included annotated price list, written only months after the founding of Apple Computer Company and the release of the Apple I in April 1976, show Jobs reminding Dave that while dealer prices "are for quantities 10-25...we are providing these prices to dealers for quantities of 5 or more to encourage new dealers."
Fast Company would later write that, "Jobs was a master salesman, but to him, selling wasn't selling. It was seduction." Jobs' method of seduction in this case is the tried-and-true art of discounting. He also hypes Apple's popularity by stating that, "The Apple Computer is in stock at almost all major computer stores" — perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, given that only about 200 Apple I machines were built during its 18-month production run.
Nevertheless, Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak — Ronald Wayne, the third founder of Apple, famously gave up his ownership stake 11 days after the company's founding in exchange for $800 — sold enough Apple I computers, including the first run of 50 to Paul Terrell of the Byte Shop, that they could afford to produce and release the Apple II in June 1977. The Apple II would become one of the first highly successful mass-market personal computers, alongside the other members of the "1977 Trinity," the Commodore PET 2001 and the TRS-80, and would make both Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak millionaires.
Famously disinclined to sign his name to anything, this typed signed letter is made even more rare by Jobs having written out his name in its entirety.
Michael Hageloh, "Steve Jobs Real Talent Wasn't Design—It Was Seduction." Fast Company, 1/30/2020