Ron Wayne and the Importance of Diversity

Many people have never heard of Ron Wayne. However all of you have heard of the company he helped create, Apple Inc. along with Steve Jobs and Steve “Woz” Wozinak.  While Ron Wayne was one of Apple’s founding members his decision making and course of action are what will forever be remembered around the world for decades to come.

Ron Wayne was born May 17th, 1934.  While working at Atari, he met a young, early twenties technician named Steve Jobs.  Jobs was already good friends with another young engineer, Steve Wozinak who was working at Hewlett-Packard at the time.  The three became good, close associates (although the bond between Jobs and Wozinak would prove to be much stronger).

On April 1st 1976 Jobs, Wozinak, and Wayne (along with help from venture capitalist Mike Markkula) formed Apple Computer.  While both Jobs and Wozinak received 45% share of the company, Wayne received 10%.  This allowed Wayne to oversee and “referee” any decision made by the two individuals as he potentially held the swing decision for the company.  It was this time that Wayne created the now famous Apple logo and helped write the instruction manual for Apple’s first computer, the Apple I.

Jobs and Wozinak brought Wayne along because they figured him to be both balanced, and reasonable. But what they didn’t know was that Wayne was tremendously skeptical of  the two young men. At the time Wayne was 42 years old, nearly twice as old as Wozinak 25, and Jobs 21.  It was because of their age, and their lack of business experience that Wayne came to the conclusion that the young up and coming company would eventually fail.   And when taken into account that unlike Jobs and Wozinak, Wayne had personal assets that creditors could potentially seize.

On April 12, 1976, just two weeks after the company was founded, Ron Wayne sold his share of Apple computer for $800.  Later that year he would receive another $1500 in agreement to forfeit any claims against the new company.

And of course the rest his history, as Apple computer would proceed to become one of the world’s largest companies.  Ron Wayne sold 10% of Apple computer for $2300 in 1976.  Had he kept that 10% share it would hold a value of 22 BILLION DOLLARS!! Wayne could have been one of the worlds 15 richest individuals.  Instead he sells stamps, rare coins, and gold out of his home to support his monthly government check.

The story and decision making of Ron Wayne should be a lesson for all of us never to be reluctant towards those that may not relate to us in age.  It was Jobs’ and Wozinak’s age difference that turned Wayne off from Apple Computer.  Instead of focusing on how tremendously talented these individuals were and embrace the diversity in age, he turned his back on a future technological powerhouse that would have set his great grandchildren for life.

None of us can stay young forever.  Eventually we will reach our 50s and 60s and witness as a new younger generation will take our place and shape the world as they see fit, just as we are now.  Being diverse involves reaching out, taking a chance outside of the norm and sometimes working with people that have nothing in common with us.  One day we may find ourselves in Wayne’s position.  Let’s be wise, and not make a mistake such as him.  It may not cost us billions of dollars, but we will be better off for it.

To this day, Ron Wayne has never owned an Apple product.  He only recently purchased his first computer – a Dell.

-Darold Ingram

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~ by daroldingram on June 30, 2010.

4 Responses to “Ron Wayne and the Importance of Diversity”

  1. Wow — what a great post! I had never heard of Ron Wayne until now. You make such a fantastic point about how ageism turned out to be Wayne’s downfall. What a great message for all age groups.

  2. Darlod – how interesting! I bet he’s kicking himself now. Oh man. How interesting!! So often, YPs are put off because of our age. This is a great example of how age doesn’t equal success – hard work and great ideas do!!

    GO YPS!!!

    -Caitlin

    By the way – your last line cracked me up. 🙂

  3. Thanks Caitlin and Mika. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Before this I didn’t know who Ron Wayne was either. But when I found out I had to do a blog post on this story.

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