While Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are widely celebrated as the founders of the tech behemoth Apple Inc., Ronald Wayne was a little-known partner who once owned 10 percent of Apple Computer Company. That is, before Wayne sold his share for $800, when the company was eleven days old.
Today, Apple Inc. has a market capitalization of about $350 billion, and Wayne’s share could have been worth over $2 billion, according to Sotheby’s, which is auctioning the founding documents of Apple Computer on Dec. 13. The auctioneer estimates the documents are worth $100,000 to $150,000.
Wayne, who later received $1,500 more, was a “father figure” to Jobs while they worked at the game company Atari, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs. Jobs reportedly brought Wayne, now 77, to Apple to be a tie-breaker when he and Wozniak disagreed.
“They were absolute whirlwinds aside from the fact they were intellectual giants, which I recognized, and it was like having a tiger by the tail; you can’t hang on and you can’t let go,” Wayne told Bloomberg Television in October. “If I’d stayed with them, I was going to wind up the richest man in the cemetery, so I figured it was best for me to go off and do other things.”
Sotheby’s declined to provide details on the previous owners of the documents but noted they were acquired through University Archives after belonging to Wayne.