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Steve Jobs Called 'Flakey,' a 'Joker' in 1976 Letter

Steve Jobs
Ted Thai/Time & Life Images/Getty Images
Steve Jobs in 1983

The late Apple co-founder was criticized by the head of a small advertising agency with whom he was trying to business a few months after launching the company.

It's hard to imagine anyone not wanting to do business with Steve Jobs.

But before the late co-founder of Apple became known as technological visionary and creative genius, Jobs failed to make a good first impression on the head of a small advertising agency with whom he was trying to make a deal, Bloomberg reported.

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In June 1976, a few months after founding Apple with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, Jobs was trying to find a company that would print the manual for their first product, the Apple I computer.

At the suggestion of his friend Regis McKenna, the head of a big ad and PR firm, he reached out to Mike Rose, who ran a Los Altos, Calif.-based ad agency. Following their phone conversation, Rose wrote a note to his business partner, telling him he had reservations about Jobs, whom he called a "joker."

The handwritten letter, dated June 23, 1976, reads: "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. Wouldhn't trust me. Told him we'd like to see what they've got -- we'd estimate -- then decide. Sounds flakey. Watch it!"

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As Bloomberg points out, the note shows that even early on, Jobs was concerned about secrecy and a driving a hard bargain, much as he was later in life.

Jobs ultimately rejected Rose's bid as too high, and the Apple I manual ended up being produced by a typesetter, according to Apple Insider.

The Apple I was released in 1976 and sold for $666.66; only 200 of them were made. It is believed that only 30-50 units still exist, including one in "superb" condition that was put up for auction in London a year ago. That unit sold for $174,000.

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Jobs died in October from resiratory arrest after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 56.