Steve Jobs’s 1973 job application, that he wrote three years before co-founding Apple with Steve Wozniak, is up for auction again. But this time, there’s something different and unique about it — it’s the “world’s first physical vs NFT auction.” Those interested can place their bets either on the physical version or its non-fungible token (NFT) variant. Those behind the process also want others to know the value attached to the two different formats. “Which do we value more, The Physical or The Digital?” the auctioneers said in a note published on the website where the auction is currently underway.
It’s a one-page job application that Jobs wrote after he dropped out of Reed College in Portland, US. On his application, he expressed interest in electronics, tech or design engineer positions. However, the paper doesn’t have the name of any company or employer to whom the application was addressed. Among his skills, Jobs had listed computer and calculator experience.
This is the third time that the application has been put on auction in the last four years. Before this, the most recent occurrence was in March 2021, when it was reportedly sold for GBP 162,000 (roughly Rs. 1.6 crores). A report by CNET states that the two other instances when the job application was auctioned was for $18,750 (roughly Rs. 13.95 lakhs) in 2017 and $1,74,757 (roughly Rs. 1.3 crores) in 2018.
The organisers of the auction say that they have, for the first time, put the proponents of the physical and digital world side by side and in a way against each other to understand what carries more value in the eyes of people as we look towards the future.
“This isn’t just a Steve Jobs NFT — unique, historic and wonderful as it is,” they said, adding that it was a broader question to the market — which direction are we, as an ever-digitalised society, heading. Furthermore, they said that the auction also marked a change in psychology: “This is not Beeple vs Picasso, that is a question of taste — and is ultimately subjective. This is Steve Jobs vs Steve Jobs.”
According to the Steve Jobs Job Application website, as of 12:10pm IST today, the physical format of the application was winning by a gargantuan margin. So far, there have been 18 bids for the physical job application, with the highest being $32,000 (roughly Rs. 23.81 lakhs). For the NFT format, though, only 9 bids have been placed so far with the highest being ETH 0.50, that equals about $1,039 (roughly Rs 77,329). There are still five days to go before the bidding ends.
The auction throws several questions: “Will this open a whole new market for decentralised collectibles? Will this cement the status-quo? Or could we see a stalemate with a fresh understanding that both can coexist and even complement one another as we traverse the next 50 years of innovation?”
A note on the website also reads, “If a bid is received in the last 10 minutes, the auction is extended by a further 10 minutes.”
The organisers say that a percentage of final profits will go to two charities — Cancer Research Institute and One Laptop Per Child.