APPLE COMPUTER'S FIRST TRADE SIGN
Offered here is nothing less than a true icon of American industry, the very first sign used by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to promote their fledgling start-up, Apple Computer Company. This sign was displayed at the first trade shows Apple attended in 1976, and it remained in service for years outside the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California. The sign measures an impressive 100 in. long x 22 1/2 in. tall, and is still set in its original weathered wood frame, about 1 1/2 in. thick. The sign itself is made of opaque white plexiglas bearing the name "apple computer inc." in black lettering applied thereto. At left appears Apple's famous rainbow-colored apple-shaped logo, also applied to the plexiglas. The sign was originally part of a light box when used at trade shows, and then was called back into service when Apple's second trade sign proved to be less than what its founders had hoped for. This historic relic was originally obtained from M. Thomas Liggett, Jr. who was hired by Apple as a Facilities Engineer 'B' in 1978, becoming Apple Computer Employee #114. In 2008, the sign was consigned, presumably by Liggett himself, to Superior Galleries, then a prominent auction house in Los Angeles. In his letter of provenance which accompanied the sign at the time it was sold, Liggett recalled: '...In my rounds of the building, I had noted a fluorescent light box...that had both the Apple logo on it, along with the words 'apple computer inc.' written on it. I was told that said device was from the first industry trade show that Steve Jobs and [Steve] Wozniak had attended, when they were showing the Apple I [ca. late 1976]...I was directed to throw [it] away. I asked and received permission to take it home, where it stayed...At that time there was no sign out on the street in front of 10260 Bandley Dr. [Apple headquarters] and folks with business with us were constantly complaining that we were hard to find...Steve Jobs had...paid $6,000 for a sign with solid brass letters, but it was set to arrive in some vague future...I came up with turning the light box's lens into a 'temporary sign'. I was given permission...In its present iteration, that sign hung for over one year in front of the 10260 Bandley Dr. location, then in front of one of our two Bubb Rd. buildings. When Steve Jobs' brass sign turned out not to be what was hoped for...[this sign] went back up in front of 10260 Bandley Dr., until the then new-style redwood sign arrived...the sign that I made ended up in the dumpster and I once again asked and received permission to take it home as my own property. I have owned it since...' The sign remains in very good condition. A photograph from the time shows a youthful, bearded Steve Jobs in a well-known image, standing beneath this very sign in its light box configuration, ca. 1976-77. The sign was purchased by principals of Alexander Autographs, Inc., one a founder of Alexander Historical Auctions, the current auctioneers of this relic. It was then re-offered at auction by Alexander Autographs in a live sale as Lot 1313 on November 7, 2008 and, along with Steve Wozniak's toolbox (see next lot), was purchased by an Apple computer enthusiast in Europe. Both pieces, along with Liggett's letters of provenance, were shipped to the buyer and delivered to the All About Apple Museum in Savona, Italy, the only Apple-authorized museum in the world. It has remained on display at that location since its arrival there in 2008. The original letters of provenance for both this sign and Wozniak's tool box were shipped by Alexander Autographs in the initial shipment with these relics, but during the intervening years both letters were lost. However, notarized statements from both Alexander Autographs' previous owner, Bill Panagopulos, a purchaser of the sign, and the current owner of the sign, both attesting as to the accuracy of the contents of Liggett's letters of provenance, are included. Also included is a color photograph of the sign as it appeared in the printed 2008 Alexander Autographs auction catalog. Alexander's auction results for the sign are also still visible online. Finally, the sign (and toolbox) were widely featured in the press following the Alexander auction, notably in the London newspaper The Telegraph (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/electronics/9503276/Ten-most-expensive-Apple-items-ever-sold-in-pictures.html?frame=2321100) and on CNN Business (https://money.cnn.com/gallery/technology/2012/09/04/expensive-apple-products/4.html). Apple was founded on April 1, 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne to sell the Apple I personal computer kit. They were hand-built by Steve Wozniak in the living room of Jobs' parents' home, and the Apple I was first shown to the public at the Homebrew Computer Club. Eventually, 200 computers were built. In contrast, last year Apple Computers had over $378,000,000,000 in gross sales, the largest market cap in the United States, and Steve Jobs' worn Birkenstock sandals brought an astounding $218,750 at auction but a few months ago! This is certainly one of the most important American industrial relics ever offered, worthy of museum display.