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Apple Memoir Reveals Biggest Mistake in Company's History

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Folks love to swap stories of the unconscionable blunders people have made while at the precipice of fortune. We mock the record label that passed on The Beatles. We throw barbs at Shelly Long and David Caruso for vacating their blossoming TV series. And we rack our brains wondering how anyone could've fired Steve Jobs.

Of course with hindsight being 20-20, it's easy to laugh from the sideline. We're all business experts after the fact. But perhaps the biggest -- and costliest -- blunder in Apple's history came from someone who certainly should've known better.

Last week, Apple's third and largely unsung co-founder Ronald Wayne released a tell-all autobiography of his time during Apple's genesis. Entitled Adventures of an Apple Founder, the memoir details how the former chief draftsman at Atari met Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in the early-'70s and began tinkering with computers. He was signed on to be a resident "adult supervisor," or an argument settler, between the two young tech-heads.

And being one of first Apple execs, Wayne was given a 10% stake in the company -- a tremendous portion of what would become a global juggernaut.

Unfortunately, Wayne sold it off after only a few weeks. His take-home profit: $800, plus $1,500 in exchange for giving up all ownership of Apple.

Had he held on to his shares, he'd be worth $35 billion today.

Although any one of us would be at the business end of a length of rope had that been us, Wayne takes the whole experience in stride and doesn't regret his decision.

"I recognized it at the time, these guys were geniuses. I would have been on a lower-tier situation because these were the guys were the founders of the modern world and I saw myself as a lesser participant," he told The Next Web. Adding, "I was a much better engineer than I was a businessman."

That goes without saying.

But I think if you're at the ground floor with a company like Apple, you might want to consider a couple night classes.

Adventures of an Apple Founder is available for $9.99 on the iBookstore, as well as Amazon.

(See also: Will Sprint's iPhone 5 Have an Edge on AT&T, Verizon? and Anti-Yahoo Remarks May Have Cost Carol Bartz a Fortune)

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POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.