In November 1997 Apple invited me to Cupertino for a special Steve Jobs announcement at the local Flint Center.

As it turned out the announcement was not as major as everyone was hoping – although the ramifications of the subject are still being felt in the technology world, and Apple hasn't really looked back since.

Jobs had recently returned from the wilderness, bringing with him the basics of what would later become Mac OS X.

So having Apple jet out a bunch of journalists to hear a special announcement was exciting stuff. Apple even called the announcement a “milestone event”.

What we heard about was the launch of the online Apple Store, built on WebObjects – which Jobs had also brought along as part of Apple’s $429m purchase of his NeXT Software company.

Amazingly many people were disappointed as they’d been expecting Jobs to announce a merger with Larry Ellison’s Oracle.

Indeed there were so many rumours of what Jobs would announce that you can read a list of 26 possible Apple announcements – number 19 was the only correct one.

Apple flew me out on Sunday November 9, held the announcement on the Monday and flew me back on the Tuesday.

Somewhere in between the Jobs announcement and dinner with Phil Schiller I made it into 1 Infinite Loop, Apple’s worldwide headquarters.

Apple HQ Cupertino campus

Located somewhere far away from Jonathan Ive’s design labs and Steve’s office was the Apple Company Store. This is where Apple employees can purchase Apple-branded stuff (“We are the only place in the world that sells Apple logo t-shirts, caps and accessories,” it boasts) that isn’t meant for mere mortals – although civilians are allowed to shop there.

Apple Company Store 1 Infinite Loop

I think I bought a bag, a t-shirt and some CD cases. Also I purchased a pack of plastic-coated Apple-branded poker playing cards.

Clearing out some boxes in my house the other day I came across the playing cards – which I’d opened but never played with.

And they’re a stunning throwback to the world of System 7 icons.

Instead of the standard card illustrations of clubs, hearts, diamonds and spades, the Apple cards feature System 7 Bombs, Clock icons, Mac Faces and Trash Cans. There are also two Happy Mac Joker cards.

Here’s some pictures of the cards (all, thankfully, in mint condition).

Apple Playing Cards

Apple Playing Cards 1

Apple Playing Cards 2

Apple Playing Cards 3

I thought some Apple collector would love these so put them up for sale on eBay.

But I certainly didn’t expect the level of interest that they soon acquired.

After a day they had been viewed over 4,000 times and the highest bid was over £300 ($475), with five days to go on the auction.

I’ll report back when they’ve sold.

(10% of the sale profits will go to Macworld Editor Mark Hattersley’s heroic marathon run for a Brighton-based charity called Target Tuberculosis.)