4/28/2016

Forgotten Co-Founder

Apple has just turned 40 years old - a timely reason to track down a man who helped start the firm and then walked away.

Drive out of Las Vegas for an hour into the Nevada desert. When you reach what feels like the end of civilization, carry on. That's where you'll find Pahrump.

And it's in Pahrump where you'll find the co-founder of the most valuable, perhaps most powerful company, on Earth.


Ronald G Wayne (ABOVE) is 81. When he was 41, he worked at Atari. And it was there he met a young, impressionable Steve Jobs who would regularly turn to Wayne for all manner of advice.

Jobs asked if he should start a business making slot machines. Wayne said no.

Jobs asked if he should go to India to find himself. Wayne said, if you must. Just be careful.

One day, Jobs finally asked the question that changed history: "Could you help me talk some sense into Steve Wozniak?"

"Bring him over to the house," Wayne said. "We'll sit down, and we'll chat."

The charismatic, lovable Wozniak - you can call him Woz - had been working with Jobs on breaking down business computers and making them into something more personal.

The pair frequented the now infamous Homebrew Computer Club, a gathering of enthusiasts who would pick apart circuitry and build it up again in new ways with the same gusto as an imaginative six-year-old faced with a box of Lego.

Woz was the best. A circuit board he built would form the basis of the Apple 1, the company's first computer - and one that sold at an auction in 2015 for $365,000 (£254,300). 

Jobs wanted Woz's brain to be an Apple exclusive. Woz was having none of it.

And so it was to Wayne's flat, in Mountain View, California, to thrash out the details. 

"Jobs thought that I was somewhat more diplomatic than he was," Wayne recalls.

"He very anxious to proceed with Steve Wozniak to get this into production. But Wozniak, being the whimsical character that he was, everything he did was for the pure fun of it. Woz had no concept of business, or the rules of the game."

Over the course of around 45 minutes, Wayne turned things around.

"He bought into it. He understood," he says.

"It was at that moment Steve Jobs said: 'We're going to start a company. It will be the Apple Computer Company.'" 

Wayne typed up the documents there and then, on an IBM typewriter, much to the amusement of Woz, who couldn't quite believe Wayne's talent for reeling off four pages of legalese from memory.

Slicing up the Apple pie was straight-forward: Jobs and Wozniak got 45% each, and Wayne had 10%, and a remit to be the voice of reason in any disputes.
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