Ron Wayne was one of the three original founders of Apple in
1976, along with Steves Wozniak and Jobs. Forty-two at the
time, Wayne provided much-needed adult supervision in a
company of young creatives.
Wayne drew the first Apple logo, wrote the three men's
original partnership agreement, and wrote the Apple I manual,
but his name is virtually unknown, and in the new Ashton
Kutcher biopic of Steve Jobs, his role in the tech giant's past
is glossed over.
Wayne, 79, hopes Jobs will reveal that the late design genius'
darker side – a side Wayne clashed with and which eventually
resulted in him selling his share of Apple for $800.
No regrets: Ron Wayne today at his home in Nevada says he
wouldn't change his decision to leave Apple
Founder: Ron Wayne in 1976, the year he, Jobs and Wozniak
founded a tech company called Apple
In this exclusive interview, Wayne lifts the lid on the true
nature of the iconic American innovator Jobs, who almost
single-handedly turned the electronic firm into a billion-dollar
Wayne says Jobs, though often viewed as a great public
speaker, was socially awkward and manipulative.
'If you had your choice between Steve Jobs and an ice cube
you would nestle up to the ice cube for warmth. It was
essentially his way or the highway in many of his business
decisions,' Wayne says.
'He was focused and had a determined attitude. If he had some
place he wanted to be, the last place you wanted to be was
between him and it, because you would have a footprint on
Wayne founded Apple Computer alongside 21-year-old Jobs
and 25-year old Steve Wozniak on April 1, 1976. The three
worked together at Atari.
Not even two weeks later, Wayne relinquished his 10 per cent
stock share of the company for just $800. Had he retained
his company shares, they would be worth $35 billion today.
'I made a decision that allowed me to pursue my interest. I
honestly don't regret walking away at all,' Wayne said.
'I knew the Wozniak design for a personal computer was going
to be a successful product. But who could have anticipated it
would be what it is today?
'If I had stayed with Apple and accepted the limitations on my
philosophy of life I could have well ended up the richest man in
the cemetery. I was in my 40s, these kids were whirlwinds. It
was like having a tiger by the tail.'
Bio: Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in the new biopic about the
former Apple CEO
Empire: Despite his experience with the company, Ron Wayne
doesn't own any Apple products
Clips from the trailer of the movie show how Wayne's engineer
pal Wozniak built a home computer by hooking up circuits to his
TV set. Jobs had the vision then to work that technology into
what would become the Macs and laptops of today. Wayne's
role was to be the intermediary between the two innovators.
Wayne left Apple after he felt that Jobs' decision to splash
over a $1500 on parts for a product was ill-advised. In the
next few years, Jobs and Wozniak invited him back to rejoin
the firm, but Ron had decided he wanted to make it big in slot
'My passion was not in computers, but slot machines. It was a
handicap that I didn't realize I had no business sense. I learned
that when I went into business building slot machines instead,'
Early design: Ron Wayne still owns sketches that were the
blueprints for the Macs and laptops the company became
Around the world Jobs is viewed as a pioneer of modern
technology, who had an easy-going nature and dry sense of
humour. However, through their earliest dealings he noticed
that Jobs was an argumentative man prone to losing his
Unrecognizable: A design for an Apple logo Wayne created for
the company back in 1976
'He was a volatile man, definitely excitable,' Wayne recalls.
'Jobs had a temper and he was a very serious person because
he wanted work done instantly. He would argue with you or he
would walk out of the room if he didn't get his way.
'He had a point of view and he never bent from that, unless
you came out with one damn good argument. And that was
difficult because he had a steel trap mind.'
In 2003, Job was diagnosed with a rare and less aggressive
form of pancreatic cancer called pancreatic neuroendocrine
cancer. But rather than immediately remove the tumor growing
on his pancreas, Jobs kept a strict vegan diet with large
quantities of fresh carrot and fruit juices.
Add to that a regime of acupuncture, frequent bowel
cleansings and hydrotherapy.
Jobs continued seeking alternative diets and medicines for a
further nine months against the advice of doctors and his
Wayne says this was typical of Jobs, who always believed
that he knew better that everyone else – even his doctors.
'Jobs was a stubborn man. The things he believed in, he
believed absolutely. In many cases you could not convince him to
the contrary.'It wasn't until a CAT scan revealed that the
tumor had grown and possibly spread that Jobs underwent
surgery in 2004. He lost his battle with cancer in 2011 and
Wayne believes that it was his stubbornness and focus on
building Apple that cost him his life aged just 56.
'Rather than go to the doctor, Jobs wanted to treat the
situation himself. The things that were important to him he
knew and understood and had mastery of, but if it didn't fit
into his mind then he considered it trivia,' says Wayne.
Despite a premature end to his life, Wayne believes Jobs would
be happen with his lasting legacy.
'I think he found peace. He did exactly what he wanted in his
life. He got the result and was fully satisfied with his
achievement,' Wayne says.
Mementos: Wayne owns early sketches and blueprints from
Apple's very first years
Big decision: Ron Wayne left Apple in 1976 due to
disagreements with Steve Jobs. By 1977, sales were already
at $2.7 million
'I don't think he imagined it would be this big. He's left behind a
psychological imprint that will ensure Apple continues to be
innovative long after his death.'
'After he came back the first time he fell ill, he made sure he
built a team that shared his philosophical approach to what is
'You eventually reach a point where the company has such
momentum of its own.'
While Jobs appeared to be a cool, calm operator, in his 20s he
was unsure that Apple would work. He took Ron aside as he
panicked about whether his computer dreams would work, or
if he would end up a broke failure.
'He asked me if he should go ahead with the Apple enterprise
because there were a lot of things he wanted to do… I said,
"Go ahead do the Apple thing… But it is a risk in that when you
have made a lot of money, don't forgot what you wanted the
money for." He forgot,' he says.
'I think he became so enamored with the job of making money,
the job itself became the driving force. I don't think the money
mattered to him as much as playing the game became the
driving force of his life.'
Big plans: Ron Wayne wrote the Apple I manual but left the
company when it was on the cusp of huge success
Despite his drive and hunger to make money, Wayne says Jobs
was relaxed about his personal style – and hygiene.
According to Wayne, Atari co-workers often moaned the
young innovator stank and appeared unkempt as he refused to
wear deodorant, shower or clean daily.
'Jobs was an extremely casual person,' Wayne says. 'He never
went to a tailor as his clothes never fit properly. His neck was
not big and he always wore big collars too large. He was never
a clothes horse. He cared about what he was doing only. He
didn't have diddly care about any of that stuff.
'When he came back from a trip to India he looked emaciated
and had suffered from many illnesses. He had very little regard
for his health and how he looked or appeared to others.'
Wayne eventually took a break from the design world to open a
stamp store near his home in Southern California.
'It took me a year to build a clientele. But I had a couple of
break-ins and bought a pistol to protect myself. But when I
thought about what I would do with it if I needed to use the
gun, I closed the shop and worked from home.'
Wayne then moved to a division of Japanese company STS
working on computer modems as chief draughtsman.
Life's a gamble: Designing slot machines was always Ron
His story: Ron Wayne pictured with a copy of his
autobiography, for which Steve Wozniak, to whom he's still
close, wrote the forward
He was poached by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
as a model-builder to create industrial facilities. He spent two
years building a fusion nuclear reaction plant model, but again
'I would be still with them today, but when they offered me a
job and asked where I had got my university degree that was
the end because I didn't have a college education.'
Wayne ended up at Thor Electronics in 1982, where he took
on the role of chief designer before he retired in 1999. He says
his proudest achievement was designing a cable box for Navy
Seals helping them communicate more effectively with a
communications box in a war zone.
After his topsy-turvy career, Ron retired to Ormond Beach in
Florida, buying a supersized mansion with a swimming pool,
games room, three-car garage and workshop.
Soon after, he suffered another blow of tragic luck.
'One day someone broke into my safe in my garage and took my
life savings. My life savings had been in metal – 145 ounces in
gold and vast amount of collectors coins.
'I couldn't get insurance on gold, the coins or cash. I had to sell
the house to recover and I moved to Nevada. It was hard and I
suffered a terrible loss.
'But I took the approach that I would not make myself sick over
it as well. I am 79 and doing well in terms of psychological and
mental health. I do not let these things affect me… It is a matter
of self control and how much you are willing to spend on
emotional response,' he says.
Reflecting on his career, Ron says, 'Every time I have worked
as a business man it has been flaming disaster. I was not
prepared to make it at Apple. I always hoped that I would meet
a character like Jobs who was more compatible to what I
wanted to do with my life. I prefer people more personable.'
Jobs and Wayne followed their separate paths until 2000,
when Wayne received a call from Jobs out of the blue inviting
him to the launch of a new Apple product.
'I was living in a stamp shop in Tucson, Arizona when I got a
phone call from Jobs. There wasn't much chit chat and he told
me he had booked a flight for me to come to San Francisco and
that I was staying at a hotel where his chauffeur would pick
'There was no 'Hello' and I wondered if there was an ulterior
Wayne attended the event, then spent some time with
Wozniak and Jobs, chatting about 'absolutely nothing.'
Temperamental genius: Wayne and Jobs couldn't see eye-to-
eye on business matters but after Wayne left Apple, Jobs
turned it into a billion-dollar company
'Then, Jobs said: "Great seeing you again." It was like, don't let
the door kick you in the ass on the way out, and I was back in
Tucson thinking, what the hell was that about?'
Wayne waited in vain to find out why he was invited to the
launch, but he never heard from Jobs again.
He was left shocked in 2011 when Steve Jobs' authorized
biography revealed a private discussion between Wayne and
Jobs regarding his sexuality.
'I understand I was outed in his book,' Wayne says.
'I didn't read the book and I don't know the context, but I don't
think he fully understood the implications of expressing this
understanding. I'm sure it wasn't vindictive, but I was taken
aback by it.'
The new biopic of Steve Jobs' life features Ashton Kutcher in
the title role. Ron says the film's protagonist looks like a young
Jobs – but he has no idea who Kutcher is.
I have heard the title Two And A Half Men but no more. I am
sorry. I am an anachronism.'
The film's producers appear to have left Wayne out of the
Jobs adventure, though.
'Typical. I am, after all, the unknown founder. But it's not
Following the loss of his life's fortune, Wayne moved to a small
mobile home in Pahrump, Nevada where he enjoys days working
on design ideas and watching old British dramas like Rumpole Of
'I built a modern slot machine with the old mechanical feel of the
old slot machines, where users hear the crash of coins when
they win. My idea was to put 40 machines together in the
corner of a casino to relive what it was like to gamble in the
'If I could I would do it today – if someone would help fund the