The $5k and Apple II donation from Steve Jobs that kickstarted sight restoration for 3.5M people

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The Apple II donated by Steve Jobs in use by the Seva Foundation sometime around 1980

A $5000 donation by Steve Jobs in the late 1970s was key to the successful creation of a charity which, 35 years later, has helped restore eye-sight to 3.5 million people in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Tibet, India and other countries, reports the NY Times.

Jobs also donated to the Seva Foundation an Apple II computer in 1980, with a copy of the spreadsheet Visicalc and a 5MB drive which he said the charity would never be able to fill.

“You’ll never be able to use all the [capacity],” Dr. Brilliant recalled Mr. Jobs telling him. “It’s five megabytes!’”

The Apple II was returned to Steve’s widow Laurene Powell Jobs after spending 33 years in Katmandu, Nepal, by SEVA co-founder Dr Larry Brilliant, a long-time friend of the couple. Dr Brilliant said that the charity would never have existed without that initial $5k donation. Ms Powell Jobs said her husband has been proud to support the charity.

“Steve was always very clear about his role in the genesis of Seva and it was his privilege to help support the heroic on-the-ground work of the doctors and health professionals involved in this courageous effort,” Ms. Powell Jobs said in a statement. “It’s amazing Seva found the Apple II donated by Steve and our family is thrilled to have it returned.”

While Jobs was often criticised for a lack of visible philanthropy (though no-one knows how much he gave away privately), Dr Brilliant says he believed this was because Apple took 100 percent of his time and energy.

“I only know how to do one thing well,” Mr. Brilliant said Mr. Jobs told him. “I think I can help the world by doing this one thing.”

The full piece is worth a read.

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Comments

  1. Matt Ackeret (@mattack1) - 9 years ago

    The picture says the late 1970s, the text says 1980.. Reporting?! What’s that?

    • Michael Overholser - 8 years ago

      I know this is old, but I can’t help myself, lol. If you read the article, you would see that he donated the 5k in 1975, and presumably donated the Apple II sometime later, even if donated at same time, (although that would be very improbable due to the Apple II release date) the caption just says “in USE sometime around 1980”, not donated sometime around 1980.

  2. Neil Anderson - 9 years ago

    And the 5MB drive probably cost $10,000.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Heh, I can certainly remember a third-party 20MB SCSI drive for the first Mac costing $2000

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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