the Forgotten Founder

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The Forgotten Founder

The Forgotten Founder
Thanks to a never-ending campaign by Apple’s powerful public relations machine to protect the myths surrounding the company’s origin, almost everyone believes that Apple was started in a garage by “the two Steves,” Stephen Gary Wozniak, 25, and Steven Paul Jobs, 21. Actually, the operation began in a bedroom at 11161 Crist Drive in Los Altos (the house number changed to 2066 when the land was annexed from the county to the city in late 1983), where Jobs—after having dropped out of Reed College in Portland, Oregon—was living with his adoptive parents, Paul R. (a machinist at Spectra Physics) and Clara (a payroll clerk at Varian). That mere semantic distinction can be forgiven. When the bedroom became too crowded, the operation did indeed move to the garage. When they adopted Steve (born February 24, 1955), Paul and Clara Jobs lived at 1758 45th Avenue in San Francisco’s Sunset district. After five months, the family moved to South San Francisco and then Mountain View before settling in Los Altos. It wasn’t until Steve was in his 30s that he met his birth mother. At that time he also learned he had a half-sister, writer Mona Simpson, who subsequently used Steve as a model for the main character in one of her recent books, A Regular Guy.

After moving out of Jobs’ garage, Apple Computer rented suite B3 at 20833 Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino, then built 10260 Bandley Drive, which became known as Bandley One when occupied on January 28, 1978.

Apple started life in “the garage” of Steve Jobs’ parents on Crist Drive in Los Altos, California (inset: the exterior of the house as it is today).

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The Forgotten Founder

When Apple was founded, Steve Wozniak lived at 1618 Edmonton Ave. in Sunnyvale and Ron Wayne lived at 1900 California St. in Mountain View. Courtesy of Ron Wayne

The bigger story here is that the two Steves weren’t alone in forming Apple. Just as Soviet propagandists doctored photos to remove party members who had fallen out of favor, Apple suffers from a convenient case of institutional amnesia by routinely ignoring the fact that when Apple was originally founded as a partnership on April Fools’ Day 1976, there were three founders: Woz, Jobs, and a fellow by the name of Ronald Gerald Wayne, 41. Jobs was freelancing at Atari in the early 1970s when founder Nolan Kay Bushnell hired Wayne as chief draftsman (badge #395) for the video game maker. Despite the difference in their ages, Jobs and Wayne became casual friends and would often have philosophical discussions on the ethics of making money. Desiring a tie-breaker in any potential conflicts with Woz, Jobs enticed Wayne to become a partner in Apple by offering him 10 percent interest in the company.

Ronald Gerald Wayne, Apple’s forgotten founder, seen here in a passport photo from 1975 (imprint of USA Department of State seal still evident).

“Either I was going to be bankrupt or the richest man in the cemetery,” Wayne recalls thinking. Since Apple was far from a sure thing, Wayne retained his day job at Atari and worked nights on the original Apple logo and documentation for the Apple I. Meanwhile, Jobs was hustling up customers. At a Homebrew Computer Club meeting (the club met monthly at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center auditorium in Palo Alto), Jobs gave a demonstration of the Apple I to Paul Jay Terrell, who operated the Byte Shop—arguably the first retail computer store chain in the country, which opened its doors on December 8, 1975 (Terrell’s birthday). Terrell was intrigued and asked Jobs to keep in touch. The next day, a barefooted Jobs dropped in on Terrell at his store in Mountain View and exclaimed, “I’m keeping in touch.” To Jobs’ utter amazement, Terrell agreed to buy 50 computers for $500 each, cash on delivery. There was only one catch to the $25,000 order: Terrell wanted fully...
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