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Steve Wozniak Denies Apple's Origin Story

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Apple was founded on April 1, 1976. This isn't just lore, this is fact. The Times says so. USA Today says so. Legions of fans say so.

But there's now one person who questions the date. Someone who was actually there.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Through his correspondence with Buzzblog's Paul McNamara, Steve Wozniak has admitted his recollection of Apple's actual founding date to be "murky."

In his defense, it was the free-wheelin' '70s.

McNamara researched the accuracy of the date after stumbling across a Usenet message board post -- remember those? -- from June 20, 1999. In it, Charles T. (Tom) Turley provided anecdotal evidence that Apple fans may be celebrating their beloved company's birthday on the wrong date. Turley claimed he spoke to Woz "face to face" about the origin date in 1996:

"Another interesting side fact I asked him was why did you found Apple Computer on April Fools' Day.  He replied that it was not founded on 4/1 at all, but that the Corp. papers were filed around 4/4 or perhaps even on 4/5 and he doesn't know where the rumor of Apple Computer being founded on April Fools' Day came from, nor just who got that rumor started, but, his Corp. filing papers for the Incorporation of Apple Computer were dated several days after 4/1."

This sparked McNamara's curiosity. He began an emailing Woz about the matter and asked if he still rejected the April Fools date.

"I don't know," Woz told McNamara. "I don't have any strong memory of any particular action at that time. It could be the date we filed for actual incorporation."

To which McNamara countered, "Apple was actually incorporated nine months later, on Jan. 3, 1977, according to the company's Web site, a search of which returns no mention of April 1, 1976."


McNamara also turned to Owen W. Linzmayer, author of Apple Confidential 2.0, for an answer. And, wouldn't you know it, Linzmayer complicated matters further:

"The paperwork for Apple the partnership was most definitely dated April 1." Adding, "Maybe it wasn't filed for several days after. ... In any event, I know I have copies of the partnership agreement somewhere. If you really want me to dig it up, I'll give it a shot."

A few minutes later, a .PDF and the myth checks out: The papers are dated April 1, 1976.

Although this seemed like the end of the road, Wozniak threw a wrench into the works. His reply via email:

"This was the partnership formed to produce a PC board for the 'Apple 1'," he wrote. "It was actually a different company than the one that got financed and produced the Apple ][. This one was a partnership. The real company was a corporation. So it's a bit murky."

Woz also outs Ron Wayne -- the oft-forgotten third Apple co-founder. "Allow me to add to this discussion," he wrote. "Ron Wayne typed this document in his apartment. I'm sure he would have dated it correctly (4/1). But we had to submit a newspaper notification to become legitimate, after a short wait."

Linzmayer summed up the matter thusly:

"Seems like splitting hairs to claim that the Jobs/Woz/Wayne partnership that produced the Apple I isn't the same company that Jobs/Woz and (early investor/CEO Mike) Markkula incorporated shortly thereafter. Two of the founders are the same, the industry is the same, the companies share the same name, and the products are the Apple I and Apple II. Technically Woz is correct in that Apple Computer the partnership isn't the same legal entity as Apple Computer Inc., but to call it murky is stretching it."

Still, it would seem that Wozniak would be a definitive source on Apple's origins.

Then again, it was the '70s.

(See also: Microsoft Founded on Lies and Malice, Says Paul Allen)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.