Who is Founder of Apple?

The world’s first PC that the masses could afford was not made by Microsoft, nor by IBM or Hewlett-Packard, but by Apple. But in order for people to be able to operate the computer, they needed a user manual, written by Ron Wayne in 1976. Ron who? Ronald Gerald Wayne, called Ron.

The both legendary and unknown third man next to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak became Apple’s co-founder on 1 April 1976. This was also the day that Apple released its first home computer, the Apple I.

Every high-value company has such a founding myth, but Apple’s has a special touch. Without Wayne, the company might never have been successful, but fate had neither a bit of fame nor a share of the money in store for the man from Cleveland, Ohio. Because on 12 April 1976, eleven days after the company was founded, Wayne sold his Apple shares back to Jobs and Wozniak – for a measly 800 dollars.

Ron Wayne impact on Apple

Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne knew each other pretty well before they founded Apple. They were colleagues at the then-thriving Atari computer game company, but they very soon felt called to higher things. In Jobs’ garage, they laid the foundation for Apple.

Wayne eventually made several contributions to Apple. He drew the company’s first logo, a woodcut-style depiction of Sir Isaac Newton sitting beneath a tree with a solitary apple dangling over his head. Wayne also wrote up the first contract in Apple’s history, codifying what all three co-founders would do. Wozniak would manage electrical engineering. Jobs tackled marketing, and Wayne would oversee mechanical engineering and documentation.

But not long after the Apple establishment, Wayne felt overwhelmed and left.

“Would I like to be rich? Everyone would like to be rich, but I couldn’t keep up the pace. I’d be rich, but I’d be the richest man in the cemetery.” These are the words Ron Wayne once uttered after his departure.

Jobs was desperate to get him to return to Apple, but Wayne didn’t want to. He stayed with Atari until 1978, started a stamp shop, worked for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and later on for an electronics shop. In 1977 he had received another 1,500 dollars from Wozniak and Jobs to refrain from any legal claims against Apple, and so the company with the bitten apple would ultimately become a world brand without Ron Wayne.

Ron Wayne: The Third and Unknown Founder of Apple   Only Fun Facts
Ron Wayne today and when he co-founded Apple in 1976. Photo: Ron Wayne.

How Wayne lost Billions of Dollars

Certainly, the reasons Wayne cited for his departure from Apple are more than compelling. Better to be poor and alive than rich and dead. We’re not talking about a few thousand dollars or a few million, by the way. We are talking about billions. Just six years after Wayne sold his Apple shares for $800, they would have had a value of $1.5 billion and in 2011, when Steve Jobs died, they would have been worth as much as $30 billion.

In 1994, Ron Wayne must have remembered that he still held copies of Apple’s original founding agreements dating back to 1976, at any rate, he sold the papers for a few thousand dollars. The buyer was Wade Saabi, the owner of a recruiting firm specializing in IT. In 2011, Saabi then had the documents auctioned by Sotheby’s – netting a total of 1.6 million dollars.

Ron Wayne: No regrets for Apple’s third co-founder

To Wayne’s absolute credit, he never showed any sign of regretting his decision. When Apple went public in December 1980, both Jobs and Woz became instant millionaires. Wayne fared less well financially, but got on with his life without complaining.

“The reason I didn’t is very simple,” Wayne said. “Should I make myself sick over the whole thing, in addition to everything else that’s going on? It didn’t make any sense. Just pick yourself up and move on. I didn’t want to waste my tomorrows bemoaning my yesterdays. Does this mean I’m unemotional and don’t feel the pain? Of course not. But I handle it by going on to the next thing. That’s all any of us can do,” as cited in Cult of Mac.

Years later, after Jobs returned to Apple and started to turn it around, he invited Wayne to attend a presentation in San Francisco showing off some new Macs. Wayne received first-class plane tickets, and Jobs’ chauffeur met him at the airport. Apple put Wayne up in a luxury room at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.

After the conference, Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne ate a long lunch at Apple’s cafeteria and reminisced about old times.

Why Apple was named Apple?

The name Apple was to cause Apple problems in later years as it was uncomfortably similar to that of the Beatles' publisher, Apple Corps, but its genesis was innocent enough.

Speaking to Byte magazine in December 1984, Woz credited Jobs with the idea. "He was working from time to time in the orchards up in Oregon. I thought that it might be because there were apples in the orchard or maybe just its fructarian nature. Maybe the word just happened to occur to him. In any case, we both tried to come up with better names but neither one of us could think of anything better after Apple was mentioned."

According to the biography of Steve Jobs, the name was conceived by Jobs after he returned from apple farm. He apparently thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

The name also likely benefitted by beginning with an A, which meant it would be nearer the front of any listings, Macworld cites.