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Apple computer contract and dissolution of contract signed by Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne (3 documents)

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  • paper, ink
Two typed documents signed by "Stephen G. Wozniak", "steven p. jobs", "Ronald G.. Wayne": Apple Computer Company Partnership Agreement, dated 1 April 1976, 3 pages (8 ½ x 11 in; 216 x 279 mm) with small staple holes and crease in upper left corners; With: Amendment dated 12 April 1976, 1 page, with erasure and minor corrections to text; And with: Registrant's Copy of County of Santa Clara Statement of Withdrawal signed by "Ronald G. Wayne," 1 page.


Ron Wayne, acquired by the present owner through University Archives

Catalogue Note

 The Original Apple Partnership Agreement, signed by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ron Wayne, 1 April 1976

with an Amendment dissolving Ron Wayne's Share in Apple, 12 April 1976, also signed by the above

The founding document of the company that has revolutionized technology, business, personal computing and the world. 

In the winter of 1974, Steve Jobs left Reed College where he had been auditing classes since dropping out as a tuition-paying student 18 months earlier, and applied for a job at Atari.  Nolan Bushnell, Atari's founder and Al Alcorn, their chief engineer, saw potential in Jobs—his energy, his intelligence, even his counterculture, hippie tendencies—but others at the company felt differently, finding him arrogant and callous with an offensive body odor due to his belief that a fruitarian diet precluded the need for deodorant or regular showers.  He was assigned to the night shift, and became influenced by the user-friendly simplicity of the Atari games, and especially by 41 year-old Ron Wayne.  Earlier, Wayne had founded a company, which later failed, but his experience opened Jobs's eyes to the prospect of starting a business: "Ron was an amazing guy.  He started companies.  I had never met anyone like that," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson in an interview.

Indeed, it was Wayne's influence that provided the last push for the foundation of Apple Computers, giving him a role important enough to earn him shareholder's status in the fledgling tech company.  The other shareholders and founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, had known each other since Jobs was in high school and was introduced to the socially shy, but technologically brilliant "Woz" by a mutual friend in what Isaacson calls "the most significant meeting in a Silicon Valley garage since Hewlett went into Packard's thirty-two years earlier." 

The two Steves had worked on several projects together by the time they dreamt up Apple, starting with technology-based pranks and culminating in a version of Pong built for Atari in 1975.  In March of '75, shortly after the introduction of the Altair, the first personal computer kit, Wozniak attended the first official meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club, where he saw the specification sheet for a microprocessor.  He went home and began to sketch Apple I, first conceptualizing an independent desktop computer, rather than a computer that would have to connect to a distant terminal to function.  On June 29, 1975, he tested his handwritten software for the first time and saw the letters he typed displayed on the screen.

Wozniak has said, "I designed the Apple I because I wanted to give it away for free to other people."  Jobs was at his side ready to counter that instinct, but Woz's enthusiasm faltered when Jobs told him that he would have to stop working for HP, an employer with whom he felt obligated to share his design (HP decided not to work on it).  Jobs recruited Ron Wayne to help him convince Wozniak to take the leap of faith needed to launch Apple as a full-fledged partnership.  Wayne's argument was so effective that Jobs offered Wayne a 10% share in Apple Computers. 

On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne met in Wayne's apartment to draft and sign the partnership agreement for the Apple Computer Company, with Wozniak's friend Randy Wigginton standing by.  The document, written by Wayne, is replete with self-conscious legal jargon, but is otherwise relatively simple, comprised of only two and a half pages of text in which Wayne spells out the shares—"JOBS is herewith assigned a total of fourty-five percent (45%) of all rights, title, and interest in and to the COMPANY, and all assets there contained"—as was Wozniak.  It is no surprise that over a decade later, when contemplating a symbiotic relationship between his second venture NeXT and the established behemoth IBM, he patently rejected the 125-page contract they sent and demanded one of only a few pages.

Eleven days after signing the partnership into existence, Wayne filed a statement of withdrawal from the Apple Computer Company with the County of Santa Clara and signed an amendment to the original 1 April agreement, in which Jobs and Wozniak agree to pay him $800 "In consideration of the relinquishment of Wayne's former percentage of ownership .... "  Wayne's prior experience with founding an ultimately failed company made him nervous to take on the risk engendered in the new partnership.  He received another $1,500 when Apple found the funding they needed shortly thereafter, a share that would be worth well over $2 billion dollars today, but Wayne has stuck by his decision, saying in a 6 October 2011 interview with Bloomberg, "I've never regretted pulling out.  I'm as enamored of money as anyone else, but I knew that it was going to be a considerable strain ... it was like having a tiger by the tail."

Even after leaving Apple, Wayne contributed to the company, producing the initial logo design—a woodcut of Newton sitting under an apple tree—which was soon replaced by the simple, now famous Apple logo designed by Regis McKenna, the publicist whose cards simply said, "Regis McKenna, himself."  The later design fit well with Apple's aesthetic of elegant, accessible simplicity.

The present agreement is Wayne's copy of the original founding contract and the amendment produced days later withdrawing his ownership share in the partnership.  The documents are the first chapter of an astonishing story.  Apple was born at a time when "computing went from being dismissed as a tool of bureaucratic control to being embraced as a symbol of individual expression and liberation" (Markoff, John. What the Dormouse Said. Viking Penguin: 2005); but more than that, Apple defined the role that computers would play as symbols of expression.  When Apple I was invented, it carried a version of BASIC written by Wozniak, eight kilobytes of memory, a Motorola 6800 microprocessor, and a circuit board, all already built, ready-made for the market.  First sold by Paul Terrell in Menlo Park for $666.66, it came without a monitor, case, power supply, or keyboard. 

With confident prescience (and the advice of Terrell), Jobs realized that the market required a computer built as a single, easily comprehensible package.  An expanded Apple team worked on the design and technology for Apple II, of which they sold 2,500 in 1977, and as many as 210,000 in 1981.  Over the next few years, Apple would continue to define the market; as Jobs said in 1982, "customers don't know what they want until we've shown them."

But the Apple II did more than define the market.  It launched the company onto an upward trajectory that would change the world—as Jobs constantly told employees they were doing.  Apple introduced graphical user interface (GUI) to the mass market in the Macintosh Computer, which made computers appealing and accessible in a way that no computer had been previously.  Over the next 30 years, Apple would introduce the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, Apps, the iPad, and several laptops and computers.  All were designed with heightened awareness of sleek form and function, turning technology and communication into art. 

And then there is the company itself.  Thirty-five years after its founding, Apple continues to foster a belief in creative heroism and profoundly influence the way in which businesses and individuals relate to technology and the world. 

With a letter of provenance from Ron Wayne to University Archives.

References: Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2011; Moritz, Michael. The Little Kingdom: The Private Story of Apple Computer.  New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1984.