Apple’s third co-founder

Not many people realize that when Apple Computer was created on April 1, 1976, there were three founders.  Everybody knows about the two Steves (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak) but have never heard of Ronald Wayne, the third Apple founder.  Wayne, 76, started his high-tech career at Atari where he met a 21-year-old Steve Jobs who had just dropped out of college.   By that time Jobs had already met Steve Wozniak and the two were dreaming about starting a company from random gadgets they had assembled and tested.  They asked the much older Wayne to step in as a business partner and provide much-needed “adult supervision” for the company.  After agreeing to the partnership, Wayne typed the original business contract on an old typewriter.  The agreement gave Jobs and Wozniak both a 45% stake and Wayne the remaining 10%.  Wayne also designed the first Apple logo and wrote the user’s manual for the first Apple product-the Apple I.  After becoming frustrated with the irresponsible and naive spending behavior of his two younger co-founders, Wayne left the company after 12 days and relinquished his stock for $800.  Had Wayne held his shares today, they would have been worth $22 billion.  

Today Ronald Wayne lives in Pahrump Nevada and scrapes by selling stamp collections, rare coins, and gold to supplement his monthly government assistance.  He currently holds 12 patents, but lacks the funding to produce products from them.  He has never owned an Apple product.  The San Jose Mercury News recently located Wayne and interviewed him for a story.  The article closed with this quote: “There were at least six times in my life when I really thought that I had the world by the tail,” Wayne says, “when I thought, ‘I have an invention here that’s going to make me a fortune.’ And six times it blew up. I don’t know why, it just never happened. It’s probably because I’m not the businessman I should be”. 

Ronald Wayne in 2010

Ronald Wayne in 2010

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