Ron Wayne's documents up for sale

December 1st, 2014 1:23 PM
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When I left my position as an editor at Computerworld two years ago, I suggested that their Apple II coverage would be no more. That was an exaggeration, of course — while I did contribute offbeat articles interviewing KansasFest attendees and reviewing Apple biopics, the day-to-day coverage of mainstream events in the retrocomputing world were Gregg Keizer's bailiwick, with frequent reports of Apple history hitting the auction block.

And so it's Keizer who put the Apple-1 back on the Computerworld.com homepage last month with news that Apple co-founder and Adventures of an Apple Founder author Ron Wayne's historical documents are up for sale. "It includes original working proofs of the Apple-1 manual, Wayne's original company logo — perhaps the oldest in existence," reports Keizer, "and design renderings of a proposed Apple II case." A phone interview with Steve Wozniak adds some perspective on the widespread interest in Apple's early history.

Wayne's lot is listed at Christie's and is estimated to sell for $30,000 – $50,000 USD. If you want a closer look at the goods in advance of the December 11 auction, Engadget posted over five dozen images of Wayne's library three years ago.

Ron Wayne's prints

Image courtesy Engadget

I'm hopeful Wayne, the perennial down-on-his-luck example of a missed opportunity, will see some profit from this sale. It's a wonder neither of the Apple co-founders shared their fortunes with their former partner — whether because he warrants or deserves it (would Apple exist without him?), or just out of pity.

UPDATE (13-Dec-14): Ron Wayne's lot sold for $25,000.

(Hat tip to Darrell Etherington and Robert McMillan)

Ron Wayne's document cache

December 22nd, 2011 3:43 PM
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Earlier this month, Apple's founding contact was auctioned from the estate of Wade Saadi by Sotheby's. Its estimated value was in the range of $100,000 to $150,000 USD.

It went for $1,350,500 — almost ten times more than expected. For comparison, an actual Apple-1 computer went for $213,600, or 15% as much as the contract.

It's hard to see this sale as yet another unfortunate transaction in which Apple co-founder Ron Wayne was involved. He sold this same contract in 1994 ago for $500 (although some reports indicate it was several thousand dollars); if he'd held onto it, he could've sold it for 2,701 times more than what he got for it. Of course, that's nothing compared to the $800 for which he sold his 10% share of Apple stock in 1976. Today, it'd be worth $35 billion, or 43,750,000 times more.

But there may be hope yet. That contract was one of several documents that Wayne has kept in his possession all these years. Brian Heater of Engadget recently rifled through Wayne's archives:

The documents, stashed in a USPS mailer kept by the door of his office, were a veritable treasure trove of information, including pages of pages of plans and pencils drawings of an Apple I enclosure Jobs asked Wayne to build — his creation was ultimately rejected by Apple and lost to history as the company gained steam.

Also stored in the envelope were a facsimile of the contract signed by Wayne, Woz and Jobs, which recently sold on auction for more than $1 million — in fact, it was Wayne's original copy that hit the auction block. He had parted ways with it for far, far less some time ago. Wayne's Statement of Withdrawal is in the pile as well — the document effectively ended his term with the company, filed for a $5 fee. Also inside are an Apple I operation manual, with the company's original logo, designed by Wayne himself and an Apple II order form.

Will one of these documents end up on the auction block next? Will Wayne's brushes with fortune ever bear fruit? Or will he forever earn nothing more than a footnote in Apple's history?

(Hat tip to Jon Brooks and Bloomberg, both via Mike Maginnis)