If you were asked to name each of the founders of Apple, you would probably be quick to name Steve Jobs and maybe even Steve Wozniak. However, most people are unfamiliar with the company’s third co-founder, Ronald Wayne. The film, Steve Jobs, even failed to include him as a character, which some critics conclude as an inaccurate portrayal of the company’s emergence. Some even refer to him as one of the “unluckiest men on earth,” due to various decisions that could have landed him a fortune, but instead led him to lead a more normal life. His name often slips mainstream media in terms of his assistance to Apple, especially considering that he lives an unusually modest lifestyle in light of his achievements.
The three met while working for Atari, which at the time was only a three-year-old business. Wayne constructed the internal corporate documentation systems with the company. It is likely that the two men, who were in their early twenties at the time, were drawn to Wayne because he was in his forties and much wiser and experienced. Jobs proposed the concept of a computer company, which Wayne agreed to facilitate. He composed a partnership agreement, which stated that Jobs and Wozniak would be the head founders, each holding a 45 percent stake, leaving him with 10 percent to act as a tie-breaker for major company decisions. Apple Computer Company was officially established on April 1, 1976. He designed the very first logo for the company, which depicted Isaac Newton sitting under an apple tree with a book in his hands. Another one of his major contributions to the company was that he wrote the Apple 1 manual himself, originally released as the Apple Computer. This was the very first desktop computer to ever be sold by Apple.
How Ronald Wayne Quit Apple
Prior to meeting his fellow co-founders, Wayne attempted to build a slot machine business that ultimately failed. This left him with a moderate amount of debt and apprehensive about the business world. Despite this experience, he still assisted with the creation of Apple with an open mind only to later back out and to give up his share with the company. He was weary of losing money if the business failed and felt that he would not be able to keep up with his co-founders. He expressed that his real passion was in product engineering and slot machines, and was not interested in the tasks that he would be performing for the company indefinitely, which was likely documentation system-based. Twelve days after it was created, he quit the company and sold his shares in exchange for 800 dollars, which would be worth billions today. He also received 1,500 dollars a year later to settle any potential allegations for the newly established Apple company.
Wayne has been highly outspoken over the years about his experiences and decisions that contributed to Apple. He contends that his decision to leave Apple was his best choice at the time and firmly believes that he would not be as old and healthy as he is today if he didn’t do so. He has stated that he had always believed that the company would be successful, but feared the obstacles that come along with owning and operating any company and felt it was too high of a risk for him.
After leaving Apple, Wayne decided to stay working for Atari up until the late seventies. During this time he also ran a stamp shop, known as “Wayne’s Philatelics,” in California that he later moved to Nevada after dealing with several robberies. He then began working for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, which he then left to work for an electronics company. There were three instances over the years that Jobs had approached him offering jobs, to which he ultimately declined. Wayne has since settled into retirement and is now living in a mobile home park located in Nevada. He mainly passes the time selling stamps and gambling.
Ronald Wayne Today
In his book, Adventures of an Apple Founder: Atari, Apple, Aerospace and Beyond, Wayne depicts many of his career associations and experiences within his life. He was also featured in the documentary, Welcome to Macintosh. He has been very open about his life in interviews and continually embraces the decisions and experiences that make him who he is today.
He maintains that his biggest regret in terms of his relations to Apple was selling the original partnership contract paper in 1976, which contained the signatures of the three founders. At the time, it was sold for 500 dollars. Later in 2011, that exact contract was sold at auction for 1.6 million dollars.