One might describe Steve Jobs with words such as “innovative” or “visionary,” but back in 1976 he was described as “flaky” and a “joker.” What a difference a few years and one monumentally successful company make. A letter from a Silicon Valley executive paints the pre-Apple Jobs as someone who isn’t going anywhere in life. How wrong can one person be?
Mike Rose, a Silicon Valley advertising executive, wrote a letter dated June 23, 1976. Jobs had contacted Rose to print the instruction manual for Apple’s first personal computer, the Apple 1. Rose was not sold on the 21-year-old Jobs and wrote a letter to warn his business partner Bob about dealing with this “joker.”
“Bob — This joker (attached) is going to be calling you. Somebody at Regis McKenna recommended us (you). They are 2 guys — they build kits — operate out of a garage — want our catalog sheets. Wants it for nothing. Wouldn’t trust me. Told him we’d like to see what they’ve got — we’d estimate — then decide.
Sounds flakey. Watch it!
The letter comes from the Department of Special Collections at the Stanford University. Jobs and Wozniak officially launched Apple Computer out of Steve’s parents’ garage in Los Altos, California, on April 1, 1976, a few months before Rose wrote the letter. The dynamic duo made about 200 Apple 1 computers and they were priced at $666.66. Rose’s price for the printing services was reportedly too expensive and Jobs used a local printing company to produce the operating manual instead. While it probably didn’t hurt Rose’s company, it still can’t hurt to be an early ally of Steve Jobs and not call him “flaky.”
Want more Steve Jobs nostalgia, check out his job application from 1973 with grammatical errors, three years before he and Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple in 1976.