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The Man Who Sold Apple Stake Now Worth $200 Billion

Apple founder Ronald Wayne

Apple founder Ronald Wayne was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1934 and went on to train as a technical draftsman at New York's School of Industrial Arts.

He then headed west to California, arriving in 1956, and founded a slot-machine company.

This was a limited liability company, but he felt so guilty about losing investors' money when it didn't work out that he eventually repaid them out of his latest earnings.

He went on to take a job at Atari, where he met a young computer programmer called Steve Jobs.

What was the investment?

Jobs, having been dissuaded by Wayne from setting up a slot-machine company, included him as a partner in his new venture, a Company called Apple Computers, set up with Steve Wozniak in 1976.

Despite drawing up the papers for the company and producing the original logo and some early designs, Wayne got cold feet about being a partner.

He worried about having to be liable for any debts the company would incur and felt that if things went wrong, he was too old to start over.

This meant in 1976 he sold a 10 percent stake for just $800 (plus an additional $1,500 later on).

That stake would be worth around $200 billion now.

What happened next?

Apple's first logo, designed by Ronald Wayne
Apple's first logo, designed by Ronald Wayne

After cutting his ties with Apple, Wayne would remain with Atari until 1978, leaving for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and eventually LDF Electronics, before retiring on a modest income.

Apple went from strength to strength, the success of the Apple lI computer in 1977 putting it on a path to greatness.

By the time it floated on the stock exchange at the end of 1980, it was worth $1.8bn.

Despite problems in the mid-1980s and 1990s, it bounced back after the return of Steve Jobs in 1997 and is currently one the most significant companies in the world, with market capitalism of $3 trillion.

"No-one could reign in Steve Jobs"

Wayne, who is now 87, claims he doesn't regret selling up and quitting the partnership as the stress of dealing with Jobs and Wozniak would have made him "the richest man in the graveyard".

Still, it might have been a risk worth taking. It's estimated that, even after being diluted as new investors entered the firm, Wayne's stake would be worth at least $45bn today.

He also made the decision to sell his copy of Apple's original founding document to a collector for $500-it was later auctioned for $1.6m.

Speaking to Business Insider in 2017, he said: "No-one could reign in Steve Jobs, I would've wound up the richest man in the cemetery.

"I knew that I was standing in the shadow of giants and that I would never have a project of my own.

"I would wind up in the documentation department, shuffling papers for the next 20 years of my life, and that's not the future I saw for myself."

He added: "I never regretted taking my name off the contract.

"I've never been rich, but I've never been hungry either."

Apple is based in Cupertino, California and employs 154,000.

It is worth around $3 trillion.

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