Say you owned 10% of Apple (AAPL) and you sold it for $800 in 1976. What would that stake be worth today?
Try $22 billion. That is the harsh reality that Ron Wayne, 76, faces every morning when he wakes up, one of the three original founders of the consumer electronics giant. Ron first met Steve Jobs when he was a spritely 21-year-old marketing guy at Atari, the inventor of the hugely successful “Pong” video arcade game.
Ron dumped his shares when he became convinced that Steve Jobs’ reckless spending was going to drive the nascent start up into the ground, and he wanted to protect his assets in a future bankruptcy. Co-founders Jobs and Steve Wozniak each kept their original 45% ownership. Today Job’s window’s 0.5% ownership is worth $1.5 billion, while the Woz’s share remains undisclosed. Ron designed the company’s original logo and wrote the manual for the Apple 1 computer, which boasted all of 8,000 bytes of RAM (which is 0.008 megabytes to you non-techies).
Today, Ron is living off of a meager monthly Social Security check in remote Pahrump, Nevada, about as far out in the middle of nowhere you can get, where he can occasionally be seen playing the penny slots.