Apple at 40 years old and I think it’s a great time we find the man that played a big role in finding the company and then walked out of it.
All you need is to get out of Las Vegas and drive for an hour into Nevada desert. When you have reached what you may feel that civilization comes to an end here, continue driving. That is when you will get to Pahrump and in Pahrump; you will get the co-founder of the most valuable probably the most powerful company on earth.
Also interested in: The History of Steve Jobs and his company Apple
Ronald Wayne is now 81 years old. He worked at Atari at the age of 41. A young, impressionable man, Steve Jobs, met him there and would constantly run to him for any sought of advice.
Wayne said no to Jobs when he wanted to open a business that would make slot machines.
Jobs asked if he could go to India and try discover himself and Wayne told hime yes, if he must. But he asked him to be careful.
One day Jobs finally came up with the right question, “help me talk sense into Wozniak.”
Wayne asked Jobs to bring Woz to the house and they would sit down to chat.
The charismatic and lovable Wozniak worked with Jobs to break down business computers and make them be personal.
The two frequently visited the infamous Homebrew Computer Club. This is where enthusiasts would split a circuitry and then build it afresh in a new way.
Woz was the best. A circuit board he built would form the basis of the Apple 1, the company’s first computer – and one that sold at an auction in 2015 for $365,000 (£254,300).
Despite his brilliance, Woz would hear none of Jobs plans to have his brains be an Apple exclusive.
And so it was Wayne that broke down the details in Mountain View, California.
“Jobs thought that I was somewhat more diplomatic than he was,” Wayne recalls.
After around 45 minutes of talking, Wayne was finally able to turn things around and Woz bought into the idea.
“It was at that moment Steve Jobs said: ‘We’re going to start a company. It will be the Apple Computer Company.”
Wayne typed the legal documents there and then, amusing Woz that e could come up with legal stuff of 4 pages right from his memory.
Dividing the ownership of Apple was quite simple; Woz – 45 %, Jobs – 45% and Wayne – 10% to be the voice of reason in case the two came to a disagreement.
After 12 days, Wayne turned down the offer.
“For very excellent reasons that are still sound to me today,” he said, 40 years and a market cap of $600bn later.
Jobs, ever the skilful salesman, had just secured Apple’s first big deal. A small computer chain, the Byte Shop, wanted 50 machines. To get the cash, Apple had to borrow $15,000.
But Wayne remembered that he had heard from a forgotten source that Byte Shop was known for not paying its bills.
Wayne explained that if the company fails to owner its bills, they would individually be liable for the debts.
“Jobs and Wozniak didn’t have two nickels to rub together. I had a house, and a bank account, and a car… I was reachable!”
Jobs helped out where he was able to but maintained that he could not officially join the company.
Months after that, Wayne got a letter.
“The letter says all you gotta do is sign away every possible interest you could have in the Apple Computer Company, and the cheque is yours,” he says.
In return he was given $1,500.
“As far as I was concerned, it was ‘found money’. So I went ahead and I signed.”
While he has no remorse that he gave up his role at Apple, Wayne regrets because of one thing though, selling his copy of the original signed contract, for $500.
The same document was auctioned in 2011 for $1.6m.
There are no Apple products in Wayne’s home because he prefers building his own technology.
He was given an iPad 2 as a gift in 2011. Like so much else in his life, Wayne gave it away.