Early Apple Employee Bill Fernandez Shares Details on Steve Jobs, Creation of the Apple II, and More

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are widely recognized as the major driving forces behind the creation of Apple computer, but there were also several other key employees in the early years who helped establish what is now one of the most valuable companies in the world.

TechRepublic has published an in-depth profile and interview with Bill Fernandez, who was Apple's first employee when the company was incorporated in 1977. Fernandez, who helped build the first Apple I and Apple II computers and is credited with introducing Jobs and Wozniak, shares some details on working with a young Steve Jobs, the early days of Apple, and more in the piece.

fernandez-with-apple-i

Image courtesy of Bill Fernandez, via TechRepublic

Fernandez, who grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, went to middle school with Steve Jobs, who he described as "nerdy, socially inept, and intellectual," qualities that led to a quick friendship.

We both also were not at all interested in the superficial bases upon which the other kids were basing their relationships, and we had no particular interest in living shallow lives to be accepted. So we didn't have many friends."

Jobs reportedly spent quite a bit of time over at Fernandez's house, which his mother had decorated in a "meticulous Japanese style" that Fernandez credits as an early influence on Jobs' interest in minimalist design.

Fernandez was also a close friend of Steve Wozniak and introduced him to Steve Jobs, which led to the famous partnership between the two. After Jobs and Wozniak formed Apple, they hired Fernandez as an electronic technician and he became the first official full-time employee.

According to Fernandez, he drew the first completed schematic of the working Apple II after reverse engineering Wozniak's design to standardize it for production. The schematic went on to be used to build the Apple II, making history.

"When Woz designed something, most of the design was in his head," said Fernandez. "The only documentation he needed was a few pages of notes and sketches to remind him of the overall architecture and any tricky parts. What the company needed was a complete schematic showing all the components and exactly how they were wired together."

As the first Apple computers grew in popularity, the company began hiring more employees and started inching its way towards an IPO. Despite his position as one of the early employees, Fernandez, as a technician, was not able to advance in the company and wasn't offered stock options. "There was no growth path for me," he said, stating that he became bored and dissatisfied with the work.

With no prospects for advancement, Fernandez left Apple just 18 months after he started working for the company. Fernandez later returned as a member of the technical staff after spending some time in Japan, going on to work on the first Macintosh. Though he was never officially awarded stock, Wozniak gave out shares of his own stock to many early employees, including Fernandez, Chris Espinosa, and Daniel Kottke.

Bill Fernandez's full interview, which goes into far more detail about the early days of Apple and his life after leaving the company, can be read over at TechRepublic.

Top Rated Comments

Going Digital Avatar
78 months ago
That was kind of Woz to give some of his shares to other people involved in the early days of Apple.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Truefan31 Avatar
78 months ago
lol man jobs was likely a douchebag. Didn't offer growth or stock to your middle school friend and first employee?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nostaws Avatar
78 months ago
for all the people bagging on Woz in the comments in the last article:

"Though he was never officially awarded stock, Wozniak gave out shares of his own stock to many early employees, including Fernandez, Chris Espinosa, and Daniel Kottke. "
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MattMJB0188 Avatar
78 months ago
ENOUGH with Jobs!!! The man was such a tool. Why do we still talk about him years after his demise. STEVE IS DEAD. D.E.A.D. Gone forever!!!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Truefan31 Avatar
78 months ago

Startup I'm part of only gave stock to the initial four members. Apple gave stock to three people. I don't think it's weird to not give this guy any stock. You either pay someone in stock or cash (or a mix). The stock is worthless initially, but has the potential to become very valuable (or never become valuable at all), whereas the cash has relatively constant value. I figure Apple gave him a lot of cash. If he wasn't content with the money, he should have asked for more or left.

----------



Steve's spirit/memory lives on forever in the hearts and minds of many (my own included). Physical death doesn't have to be the end... although I guess you must be terrified of your own mortality, if you think it is.

Ok. He was employee #1. He introduced woz to jobs. They were childhood friends. It's a d**k move to not offer him a slice of the company. If he left after 18 months there's a reason. No growth, no options. It's messed up. If it wasn't then woz wouldn't have to give him his own shares.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DigMe Avatar
78 months ago
Woz seems like a solid guy.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Watc black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best Apple Watch Deals [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 4:01 pm PST by
Black Friday sales have begun on a variety of products, including the Apple Watch. There are quite a few deals across the Apple Watch lineup this year, including one of the lowest price we've ever seen the Apple Watch Series 3. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the...
AirPods Pro black friday 20 sale feature 2

Black Friday 2020: AirPods Pro Reach Lowest Price Ever [Updated]

Wednesday November 25, 2020 3:22 pm PST by
Black Friday has kicked off this week, and one of the first major sales for the AirPods Pro is available right now on Walmart. You can find this deal below, along with a few other solid discounts on the regular AirPods. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site...
windows 10

Developer Successfully Virtualizes Windows for Arm on M1 Mac

Friday November 27, 2020 7:16 am PST by
Developer Alexander Graf has successfully virtualized the Arm version of Windows on an M1 Mac, proving that the M1 chip is capable of running Microsoft's operating system (via The 8-Bit). Currently, Macs with the M1 chip do not support Windows and there is no Boot Camp feature as there is on Intel Macs, but support for Windows is a feature that many users would like to see. Using the...
General black friday 20 sale feature

Thanksgiving Day Deals Still Available on AirPods, M1 Macs, Apple Watch Series 6, iPads

Thursday November 26, 2020 10:21 am PST by
Black Friday deals seem to start earlier and earlier every year, so there were already a wide variety of discounts available for Apple products on Thanksgiving Day. Many of the deals remain available even after Thanksgiving, but act fast, as inventory quickly fluctuates. Thanksgiving Day Deals on Apple Products — Still Available:AirPods with a wireless charging case remain available for...
iPhone black friday 20 sale feature

Apple Black Friday 2020: Best iPhone Deals

Friday November 27, 2020 12:56 pm PST by
Black Friday is halfway done, but there are still a few deals to shop for on iPhones at carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile/Sprint. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. AT&T Starting with AT&T, you'll find up to $700 off any iPhone 12 when...
13 16 inch macbook pro air trio

Reliable Leaker Suggests Redesigned MacBooks in 2021 Will Include Both Apple Silicon and Intel Models

Wednesday November 25, 2020 9:15 am PST by
Reliable leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today suggested on Twitter that redesigned MacBooks coming in the second half of 2021 will include models with both Apple Silicon chips and Intel processors. The brief Tweet came in response to a MacRumors article from earlier today, which outlined a report from Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that Apple plans to release redesigned MacBook models with Apple ...
iphone trade in store

UK Environmental Committee Says Apple Contributing to 'Throwaway Culture' of 'Short-Lived Products'

Thursday November 26, 2020 7:07 am PST by
Technology companies like Apple are contributing to e-waste by making their products difficult to repair, and charging expensive repair fees, according to a lengthy report published today by the UK Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee. "We were told that Apple glues and solders parts together on their laptops, which makes repairing them very difficult," the Committee wrote in a summary ...
m1 chip macbook air pro

Kuo: Redesigned MacBooks With Apple Silicon to Launch in Second Half of 2021

Tuesday November 24, 2020 7:53 pm PST by
Apple plans to release additional MacBook models with Apple Silicon in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as part of the company's two-year transition away from Intel processors across its Mac lineup. In a research note today, obtained by MacRumors, Kuo said that these MacBook models will feature a new design. Kuo did not specify which models these will be, but he...
mac mini macbook pro macbook air

Apple M1 Hands-On Comparison: MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac Mini

Monday November 23, 2020 3:40 pm PST by
Apple's M1 Macs are out in the wild now, but ahead of the holidays, you might still be trying to figure out which one to pick up, either for yourself or as a gift for someone else. We've got all three of the new Macs available, so we thought we'd give MacRumors readers a hands-on overview of each machine in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
iPad Pro 5G and Mini LED feature

Rumored 2021 High-End iPad Pro May Feature 5G With mmWave Support

Thursday November 26, 2020 2:14 am PST by
Apple's rumored high-end iPad Pro models to be released next year will be 5G-enabled with mmWave support, according to sources cited by industry publication DigiTimes. Multiple rumors have suggested Apple is planning to release a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a mini-LED display next year, with the possibility that there will be an 11-inch mini-LED model too, but details beyond that have...