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They say hindsight is 20/20, or — in the case of Apple’s lesser-known third co-founder Ronald Wayne — billions of dollars. On April 1, 1976, Wayne drew up a contract with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to found Apple Computer Company.

Twelve days later, Wayne sold his 10 percent stake in Apple to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. In late 2018, it was estimated a 10 percent stake in Apple would be worth more than $95 billion.

Why Wayne left Apple is subject to interpretation. Some sources have reported Wayne — who was senior to Jobs and Wozniak by 20 years — grew leery of the financial risk associated with a start-up. Wayne himself says Apple wasn’t a good fit.

Wayne reflects on his departure from Apple

In a 2012 Facebook post published after the release of his book Insolence of Office: Socio-Politics, Socio-Economics, and the American Republic, Wayne said: “Aside from any immediate apprehension in regard to financial risks, I left because I didn’t feel that this new enterprise would be the working environment that I saw for myself, essentially for the rest of my days.” In an interview with Motherboard, he explained: “I was in the shadow of giants, I knew I would never get my own project and it wasn’t my passion anyway.”

Still, Wayne’s departure ranks with that of the fifth Beatle, Pete Best, in terms of what might have been. During his short tenure at Apple, Wayne designed the company’s original logo, a pen-and-ink illustration of Isaac Newton under an apple tree.

In interviews, Wayne has said he has only one regret from his Apple tenure: selling his original contract in the 1990s for only $500. It has since fetched more than $1.5 million at auction.

Photo: Tada Images / Shutterstock

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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