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What Happened to Apple’s Third Co-Founder?

Margaret Lipman
By
Published May 17, 2024
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Nearly everyone knows that Steve Jobs was a driving force behind the creation of Apple Computer Company (known as Apple Inc. since 2007). The name Steve Wozniak is also well-known among tech history buffs and many laypeople. But what about Ronald Wayne, the third co-founder of what has become one of the world’s most valuable companies?

The original focus of the company, founded on April 1, 1976, was to sell kits for the Apple I personal computer, which had been hand-built by Wozniak. Jobs knew Ronald Wayne from their days working for the Atari Corporation and asked him to come on board to help the fledgling company with administration and internal system documentation and to serve as a mediator when Jobs and Wozniak disagreed. In this capacity, he would receive a 10% stake in the company, while Jobs and Wozniak would each have 45%.

Older than Jobs and Wozniak by 20 years and 16 years, respectively, Wayne played an important advisory role in the earliest days of the company. In addition to being the deciding vote when "the two Steves" were deadlocked, he also designed the original Apple logo (an apple falling onto Isaac Newton’s head) and wrote the Apple I operating manual.

However, less than two weeks later, Wayne left the company. Having previously racked up significant debts with a venture to manufacture slot machines, he was reticent to take the risks that his younger business partners felt comfortable pursuing.

Wayne eventually received $800 for his stake. His departure meant that he had no claim to Apple stock in subsequent years, a financial decision that he surely tries not to regret, as he would be a multi-billionaire if he still owned 10% of the company’s stock.

The forgotten Apple co-founder:

  • *"What can I say? You make a decision based on your understanding of the circumstances, and you live with it,” Wayne told CNN in 2010 with remarkable equanimity (and, interestingly, while playing video poker at the Nugget Hotel & Casino in Pahrump, Nevada).

  • *In the same interview, Wayne admitted that he has never owned an Apple product, using a Dell with Microsoft Windows as his personal computer.

  • *After leaving Apple, Wayne continued to work in the electronics industry before shifting his focus to trading rare coins and stamps. He celebrated his 90th birthday today (May 17, 2024).

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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