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Happy 36th Birthday, Apple Inc.—Not So Fast, Ronald Wayne

By on April 1, 2013 – 12:56 pm

On April 1, 1976, computer nerds Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne founded Apple (back then, they called it Apple Computer). About three months later, they launched the Apple I which was nothing more than a circuit board with around 60 basic textual chips. It wasn’t a plug in-and-use either. If you were one of the 200 people to spend $666.66 on the first batch (that’s $2723 in 2013, adjusted for inflation), you had to find the right power supply transformers, power switch, ASCII keyboard and monitor. And that’s not even figuring out how to encase it—the owner of this Apple I (pictured) made his case out of wood… wood!

Wait, back up. Ronald Wayne? Who’s that? Oh yeah, he’s the co-founder who created Apple’s first logo, drafted the original Apple partnership contract, wrote the Apple I manual, and received a sweet 10 percent stake in the company. Ten percent might not have meant much in 1976 when this little dog-and-pony act was run out of Jobs’ parents’ garage, but consider that by 1977, Apple’s sales rose to $2.7 million. A year later, $7.8 million. By 1980, $117 million! By 2012, Apple became the largest publicly traded corporation in the world—the world—valued at $626 billion.

Doesn’t matter though. Ron sold his 10 percent back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800 on April 13, 1976.

Still alive at 78, Ronald claims that he doesn’t regret his decision, it was the “best decision with the information available to [him] at the time.” One of his reasons is previously failing in a slot machine company he started in the early ‘70s. “If you fall, get up and try again” was not old Ron’s mantra.

So happy birthday, Apple. You’ve produced some great things (anything iRelated), some bad things (the Mac IIvi) and the Pete Best of the technological world: Ronald Wayne.

(And no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke—Ronald Wayne really did give up his 10 percent which would have been worth $35 billion as of August 2012.)