Did you know that Apple was originally a three-person collaboration? The company was formed by a partnership of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but there was a third person involved right at the beginning – his name is Ronald G Wayne. At the time of Apple’s formation, Ronald Wayne was aged 41, and was working with Steve Jobs at Atari. Wayne helped and advised the younger Jobs on all manner of subjects, both in his work and his personal life. Now aged 81, Wayne lives in a place called Pahrump, which is in the Nevada desert, an hour from Las Vegas, but he by no means lives the millionaire lifestyle.
Jobs and Wozniak first began their collaboration when they became interested in trying to develop the equivalent of today’s personal computers, using bits and pieces of hardware from the existing business machines of the time. It was apparently the older Wayne that Jobs turned to when he wanted to persuade the young and fun-loving Wozniak to join him in a real grown-up business venture, when Wozniak was only interested in computers for fun. It appears that Wayne was successful in selling the idea to Wozniak, and it was Wayne who typed up the contract documents there and then, for the newly-formed Apple Computer Company using, ironically enough, an IBM typewriter.
10% stake in Apple
The arrangement was that Jobs was to hold a 45% stake in the new company, so was Wozniak, and Wayne was to hold 10% and be the arbiter in the case of any disputes. You would imagine that Wayne would have been set for life as a 10% stakeholder in what would turn out to be a massively successful and valuable company, but in fact Wayne sold back his share and relinquished all rights to the company for a small fee – $1,500. His reason for doing this made good sense to him at the time – the company had won a contract to supply 50 computers to a chain who appeared to have a poor reputation in terms of paying suppliers. Apple needed to borrow a relatively large sum of $15,000 (peanuts in relation to Apple today) to fulfil the contract, and Wayne was afraid that if the deal went bad, he would be personally responsible for paying off any debts. Jobs and Wozniak, being young and short of money, would probably have been OK, but Wayne was a mature homeowner with money in the bank and a car, and could have come off worst in any legal action.
Wayne relinquished any rights to Apple, but his lasting legacy is that he was the catalyst that got Jobs and Wozniak together in the first place, and that he drew the first company logo – an apple tree with an apple suspended over Isaac Newton’s head. It was Wozniak who suggested they lose the tree and the figure, and the legendary company logo was born. Wayne says that his only regret is that he sold his original Apple contract for a measly $500 (he did keep a copy), although it may be significant that his home is an Apple-free zone.