PAHRUMP NEVADA — Ronald G. Wayne, the third co-founder of Apple can be found leaving his home in Pahrump Nevada and heading into town on any given night after midnight.
Traveling along his favorite route dotted with multitudes of available mobile homes, he drives past Terrible’s Lakeside Casino and RV Park, then he takes a left at the mysterious building decorated with attractive women in the shape of a white castle, but burgers are not the meat for sale here.
When he arrives at a casino in Pahrump Nevada, Wayne heads directly to a penny slot machine. If it is past the 15th of the month Wayne has just cashed his Social Security check, and will have hours of entertainment trying to hit the jackpot that escaped him years ago.
As Apple basks in the glory of its latest iPhone release, just weeks after the iPad, the company exists in a large part because of this retired resident of Pahrump Nevada.
Ronald G. Wayne is considered by many as an extremely intelligent man.
He’s designed and built slot machines approved by the state’s gaming commission, invented a cable switch for field computers used in the first Gulf War, and has written two books he hopes to get published.
But some might also call him one of the unluckiest.
Wayne, though, said he doesn’t see it that way.
“I was a much better engineer than I was a businessman,” he said.
Wayne, you see, was one of the founders of Apple, one of the most successful companies in the world.
“I was a participant in this wonderful adventure,” he said.
Today, Wayne, 76, spends his days tinkering with his stamp and coin collections in a small house in beautiful Pahrump Nevada.
Wayne, who was in his 40s at the time of Apple’s founding, worked at Atari, where he met Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who were both in their 20s.
Jobs and Wozniak started out in a computer club tearing apart business computers and converting them into personal computers at a time when such systems didn’t exist.
But then the two men got into a disagreement, Wayne said. Wozniak, who designed circuits for the project wanted to be able to market it to other companies.
Jobs disagreed and approached Wayne to persuade Wozniak not to do so.
“I invited them to my house and in a two hour conversation (with) the three of us together, I was able to convince Steve Wozniak of the reality or the propriety nature of these circuits,” Wayne said.
Jobs then proposed forming Apple, with himself and Wozniak each getting a 45 percent share of the business and Wayne offered 10 percent to act as a tiebreaker in a disagreement.
Wayne also designed Apple’s first logo, described as a whimsical 19th century design of Isaac Newton sitting under a tree with an apple on his head.
But Wayne said he got cold feet after Jobs sold the first wave of Apple computers to a store that had a poor reputation of paying its suppliers.
Wayne figured that if any company debt went bad, he would be on the hook for 10 percent of it, so he sold his share back for $800.
That share today is worth $35 billion.
Wayne said he doesn’t worry about the money he could have had; instead he said he’s happy for his former business partners.
“I’m certainly not going to waste my tomorrows worrying about whether I made the right decision yesterday,” Wayne said.