Missed opportunity #history


Extract from The PC Pioneers

Steve Jobs decided they should form a company to sell the computer [Apple 1] that Steve Wozniak had designed. He came up with the name Apple Computer based upon his recent return from a commune in Oregon in which he had some interest; it was located in an area where there were a number of apple orchards.

The two needed cash so Wozniak sold his HP65 scientific calculator for $250 and Jobs sold his Volkswagen van for $1,500 to raise the necessary seedcorn capital.

The two Steves approached Ronald Wayne to assist them. Wayne had worked with Steve Jobs at Atari and it was he who drafted their partnership agreement, designed and drew the first Apple logo (not the one we all know!) and he also produced the Apple I user manual.

He was awarded a 10% equity holding, each Steve having 45%, and they formed Apple Computer on All Fools’ Day, 1st April 1976. Wayne, a little older than Wozniak and Jobs, had some business experience under his belt and it was agreed that he would be an appropriate referee if there should be any dispute between the other two.

It was this previous business experience that caused him concern. Fresh in his memory was how he had spent two years paying off creditors for a previously failed business in slot machines.

Things started to expand a little too rapidly for his taste.  The partnership agreement he had drawn up had made him jointly and severally responsible for any debts – and he was the only one of the three with any assets!


When the team picked up a big order that needed to be financed he decided to pull out and sold back his equity holding in April 1976 for just $800.

Though Wayne is quoted as saying he had no regrets, he surely must have had some sleepless nights as he saw the organisation grow. He sold his 10% for just $800 in April 1976 only to see the success of the Apple I, then to watch as 7,000 Apple IIs were sold in 1977.

Within three years Apple was turning over $100m.  How must he have felt when its IPO (initial public offering) in December 1980 sold 4.6 million shares in minutes, valuing the company at $1.8bn?

This ia an excerpt from The PC Pioneers

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