Pahrump resident, an Apple co-founder, misses Steve Jobs

His is the fortune that isn’t.

But Pahrump resident Ronald Wayne refuses to dwell on the billions he doesn’t have. In fact, he calls his co-founding of one of the world’s greatest companies a “small part” of his life.

He’d much rather chat about his obsession with slot machines or his new book on monetary policy, but this week that small part of his life has loomed large.

Wayne, now 77, started Apple Computers with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak 35 years ago. Jobs died Wednesday at 56, and Wayne found himself fielding calls from media worldwide.

Wayne reminisced from his Pahrump home Friday, sharing memories of Jobs and of his own brief but wild ride as fledgling Apple’s “resident adult.”

“It’s not possible to exaggerate Steve’s contributions. He was a giant, not only in the world of tele­communications and computers and tech development, but in his influence on sociological development around the world,” Wayne said.

THE NEXT STEVE JOBS?

What lessons can a businessman who was there at the birth of a legend pass on to anyone hoping to follow in the footsteps of Steve Jobs?

Not much chance of that, Wayne said. Jobs was inimitable and irreplaceable.

“I don’t think you could replicate his qualities in anyone else,” Wayne said. “He had certain powerful qualities, but the important fact was, he had them all in one person. He had this unusual ability, as if he were out of a place in time, to stand above the crowd. He could see yesterday, today and what was to come.”

What’s more, Jobs recognized his limitations even as he could spot strengths in others. He knew how to gather people to complement his expertise, and to motivate them in a certain direction.

“It was like playing pieces on a chessboard. He could focus on the vision he had,” Wayne said.

That vision started in 1976, when Wayne partnered with Jobs and Wozniak, who met when they worked for video-game maker Atari.

“Steve had some appreciation for my seniority and skills and abilities, and we got along well together,” Wayne said. “We had long, philosophical conversations on every subject. He was a fun and fascinating person to be with.”

Still, the partners took wildly divergent paths after Apple’s debut. Wayne quit the company within two weeks, taking just $2,300 to cash out his 10 percent ownership.

NO REGRETS

After Apple, he moved around, working in Las Vegas for now-defunct slot maker TGM Corp., then in California for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he created model-building facilities. He also was chief engineer for cable and connector maker Thor Electronics in Salinas, Calif.

Wayne holds a dozen patents but says he “never made a dime” on any of them.

Meanwhile, Jobs stuck with Apple until 1985, got fired, then returned in 1996. He developed world-changing technologies, from laptops to smartphones, and amassed the world’s 110th largest personal fortune at more than $8 billion.

Yet Wayne, whose 10 percent share of the company would be worth about $35 billion today, never begrudged Jobs his success. Nor does he look at Apple as the billion-dollar business that got away. He emphatically says he knew even back then that Apple would succeed. He just didn’t want to endure its roller coaster ride to the top. His epiphany came after Jobs established a $15,000 line-of-credit to fulfill a contract with a computer retailer that had a bad rep for not paying its bills.

Jobs and Wozniak were just kids with nothing to lose. Nearly twice their age, Wayne had assets to protect.

“If they live up to their negative reputation, I’m the adult in the room. I’m the obvious target for that $15,000,” he said. “I’m as enamored with money as anyone else, but these kids were whirlwinds. It was like having a tiger by the tail. I had a sense at the back of my mind that if I had stayed with Apple, I would probably have wound up the richest man in the cemetery.”

FUR AND FEATHERS

Wayne, like Jobs, never earned a college degree. He learned engineering on the job. He grew up in Cleveland, enthralled with the illegal slot machines in neighborhood drugstores. He moved to New York City as a teenager, and to Los Angeles in 1956, stopping in Las Vegas on the way.

“Back then, it was a gambling town. It was fun and interesting and much lighter,” he said.

Wayne relocated to Nevada in 2004, settling in Pahrump because it’s quiet. He rarely makes it into Las Vegas.

“You can sleep at night in Pahrump, and there’s nothing I could do in Las Vegas that I couldn’t do in Pahrump.”

Things haven’t stayed quiet, though. It’s been “fur and feathers” since Wednesday. He has fielded calls from media across the world.

“That’s characteristic. For 30 years, I was the unknown founder of Apple. Once someone found me, that was the end of that,” he said.

The interviewers all ask the same questions: Why did he back out of Apple? Does he regret missing out on the billions his share of the company would be worth today? The tone of the queries, and the tack most of the stories take, bother him.

“I sometimes have to fend off the accusation that I was diddled out of something. It’s totally untrue. There was no antagonism. Nobody diddled me out of anything. They knew exactly why I was backing out. It didn’t take me long to realize I had no business being in business. I’m a better engineer than I am a businessman.”

LOSING A FRIEND

Today, Wayne is semi-retired, offering consulting services to small companies that need product-development help and living a “comfortable life” on an acre and a half of land. He started buying gold when it was worth $200 an ounce, and recently published “Insolence of Office,” a book — available on iTunes — that details “the effects of monetary corruption on our governmental system, and how that corruption bears directly upon the personal lives of each of us.”

It took Wayne 30 years to write his book, which advises investors to put their faith in metals, not in paper currency.

“I actually believe the writing of this book justifies my existence on this planet,” he said. “It is profoundly important not only to businesspeople but to people in their private lives.”

His other piece of advice to businesses, and to people who invest in them?

“Years ago, I had a boss who had been a stockbroker. He told me, ‘In the stock market, a bull can make money, a bear can make money, but a pig can’t make money.’ ”

Apple is most assuredly not a pig. The company, which jump-started markets for the tablet computer and smartphone, in August eclipsed Exxon as the world’s most valuable business.

For Wayne, the ultimate sadness is not that he no longer is vested in the company. Rather, it’s the loss of his friend and former partner.

“Unfortunately, the fates are perverse and unkind and unjust. I drew very lucky in my genetic pool, and am sitting here at 77, while we ask what Steve, who was a monumental contributor to human society, could have achieved in the extra 20 years I got out of life,” he said. “It’s profoundly unfair.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at
jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like