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Apple's remaining co-founders, Woz and Wayne, reminisce about early company relics

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 19, 2014
Ron Wayne, the little-known third co-founder, to auction off his collection of early-Apple documents.

Ron Wayne and Steve Wozniak
Ron Wayne (left) and Steve Wozniak (right), Apple's remaining co-founders, met Monday to talk about the growing interest in Apple memorabilia. Credit: Bob Luther

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak yesterday said he wasn't surprised at the growing interest in early artifacts from the company, including the Apple-1, the first personal computer he designed and created.

"It doesn't seem that unusual at all," Wozniak said in a telephone interview Monday. "It's the largest brand in the world, so many people know Apple, and the Apple-1 is so rare. But it's also because the world's changed since Apple was started."

But Ron Wayne, a co-founder much less known than either Wozniak or Steve Jobs, thought a little differently. "I'm just amazed, to be perfectly candid," he said of the interest. "I just played a small part [in Apple]. It's all about Steve Wozniak creating this product."

Wayne, now 80, and Wozniak, 64, were referring to the brisk sales of Apple memorabilia over the last several years, including several Apple-1 machines that have sold at auction for more than half a million dollars each, and in 2011, the company's founding contract, which sold for $1.6 million.

In 1976, when that contract was drawn up, it boasted three signatures: Wozniak's, Wayne's and Jobs'. Wayne, then 41 and thus the elder statesman of the trio, was instrumental in the founding of Apple. He had been recruited by Jobs to convince Wozniak to launch the partnership. For his part, Wayne was offered a 10% share in the new company, Apple Computers.

Wayne relinquished his part of the deal just days later, receiving $800 for his shares. He bowed out in part because of past business venture failures as well as the fact that all the partners were personally liable for any debts the new company might accrue.

"No, I don't regret the decision," Wayne said Monday. "My passion was not computers. I had put my two cents in and was glad to help."

Wayne, however, is now selling the last of his Apple holdings, which are not in shares, but in paper.

Among the items slated for auction by Christie's on Dec. 11 is Wayne's document collection, dubbed the "Ron Wayne Apple Archive." It includes original working proofs of the Apple-1 manual, Wayne's original company logo -- perhaps the oldest in existence -- and design renderings of a proposed Apple II case. Christie's has pegged the value of Wayne's collection at $30,000 to $50,000, the high estimate an increase from an earlier $40,000.

Wayne's Apple II planned enclosure was not actually used, but it closely resembled the final in several ways. "The [actual case] philosophy was as I designed it," said Wayne. "Rather than a vertical design with a vertical motherboard and a separate keyboard, it was a horizontal design with an integrated keyboard."


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