In 1976, Apple co-founder Ronald Wayne sold his shares of the company – equaling 10% of Apple – for $800. Those shares today are worth about $59 billion.
Third Apple Co-Founder
While history remembers the early days of Apple Computer with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building the company out of a garage, there was in fact a third founder of Apple named Ronald Wayne. He and Jobs worked together at Atari before founding Apple.
Shortly after the company was founded, Apple’s third co-founder feared he might lose his assets – unlike Steve Wozniak or Steve Jobs, who had no assets to speak of – if Apple went under. Deciding he didn’t want to take a chance with this new company with two young leaders, Wayne forfeited his claims against the company when they incorporated, and he received a $1500 “severance” check. He earned a total of $2300 at the company, factoring in the $800 stock sale. Wayne bowed out of the company 12 days after it was formed.
Ronald Wayne designed the original Apple logo and wrote the manual for the Apple I computer.
Wayne told Mercury News in 2010:
“I just wasn’t ready for the kind of whirlwind that Jobs and Wozniak represented. I felt certain the company was going to be successful; that wasn’t the question. But how much of a roller coaster was it going to be? I didn’t know that I could tolerate that kind of situation again. I thought if I stayed with Apple I was going to wind up the richest man in the cemetery.”
Wayne later worked as an engineer and has sold stamps during his retirement. Despite his early ties to Apple, Wayne never owned an Apple product until he was given an iPad2 in 2011.
While Wayne and Jobs worked together at Atari, Ron confided with his co-worker, telling Jobs that he was gay. “It was my first encounter with someone who I knew was gay,” Jobs later remembered.
- Apple’s lost founder: Jobs, Woz and Wayne (Bruce Newman, Mercury News: June 2, 2010)
- On this day in 1976, Apple co-founder Ronald Wayne sold his 10% stake for $2,300 (Zach Epstein, Yahoo News: April 12, 2012)
Updated May 25, 2016
Originally published June 2015