Apple Co-Founder Traded His Shares for Gold. Why That Was a Horrible Investment, in 1 Chart

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Co-Founder Ron Wayne discusses what he has up for auction at Christie’s. He speaks on “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

In 1976, Apple co-founder Ron Wayne sold his 10 percent stake in the company for $800 and said he has no regrets. Before auctioning off some early Apple artifacts today, he told Bloomberg TV that the first purchase he'll make with his proceeds is gold.

"Security for the future,” Wayne said yesterday. "My savings has been in gold for the last 40 years."

Let's take a look at how gold has performed against Apple's stock since the company went public.

If Wayne put his $800 into a handful of gold bars in 1980 when Apple Computer went public, they'd be worth about $1,750. If he'd held onto his Apple stock, he’d have billions of dollars today. As investment strategies go, don't expect to see this one in the gold bug hall of fame.

Wayne met Steve Jobs when they’d worked together at Atari. Wayne compiled instruction booklets for the game system and got along well with Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who were about half his age. The pair brought Wayne into their computer project to help incorporate it and serve as adult supervision. He designed the Apple-1’s documentation and drew the first company logo, depicting Sir Isaac Newton sitting beneath an apple tree.

At 80, Wayne is now retired and lives off of his Social Security checks. He told Emily Chang in the Bloomberg TV interview that he’s never regretted his decision to leave. Jobs and Wozniak were "a whirlwind,” and Wayne, who was interested in creating new products, dreaded spending his life writing computer manuals.

Photographer: Maxppp/Zuma Press

The solid gold iPhone made by Liverpool jeweller Stuart Hughes. Close

The solid gold iPhone made by Liverpool jeweller Stuart Hughes.

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Photographer: Maxppp/Zuma Press

The solid gold iPhone made by Liverpool jeweller Stuart Hughes.

“If I had stayed with Apple, I probably would have wound up the richest man in the cemetery,” Wayne said. “As a product-development engineer, I couldn’t see myself spending the next 20 years in a large backroom shuffling papers. I had my own passions."

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