You surely have heard of Steve Jobs. Maybe you’ve even heard of Steve Wozniak. But did you know that three, not two men, founded Apple Computer back on April the 1st of 1976? That third man is Ronald Wayne.
Ron first met Steve Jobs when they both worked at Atari. Wozniak, who was already friends with Jobs, was designing a computer in a box that he wanted to sell. It was Wozniak that had the technical knowledge while Jobs had the vision. But these were two young guys who had never been in business before.
So the two Steve’s came to Ron to help them formulate a business plan. In 1976, Ron was brought in as “adult supervision” to Apple Computer. He was 42 at the time, twice the age of the younger energetic Steve’s. The company was set up like this: Jobs and Wozniak would each get 45% of the company while Ron would get 10%. Ron would serve as the mediator if any disputes would arise.
In Ron’s short time with Apple, he drafted Apple’s original incorporation documents, created the company’s first logo and created the operating manual for the Apple I personal computer.
But Apple’s third-co-founder bailed out early, just 11 days into his new role. You see, Ron had been unsuccessful before with a slot-machine manufacturing business company he started. This left him deep in debt. Once bitten, twice shy as they say. Plus he was also the only one of the three who had assets that could be seized by creditors if the new business were to fail.
Ron Wayne then went to the local county registrar’s office, where he had been just weeks before to start the company, and gave up his ten percent stake in Apple and came away with just $800. In case you’re wondering, had he kept his 10% stake in Apple, it would be worth over 35 billion dollars today.
Today, Ronald Wayne lives a quiet life in Nevada, mostly off Social Security and according to him a “modest trade in collectors’ stamps and coins”.