Wayne was born in Cleveland, Ohio, United States on May 17, 1934 to a Jewish family. He trained as a technical draftsman at the School of Industrial Art in New York.
In 1956, aged 22, he moved to California. In 1971, Wayne started his first business, a company selling slot machines.
In 1976, Ronald Wayne built the internal corporate documentation systems at the three-year-old Atari, when he met coworkers Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
At age 41, Wayne wrote a partnership agreement, and the three founded Apple Computer on April 1, 1976.
Wayne illustrated the first Apple logo and wrote the Apple I manual. Reportedly, "Twelve days after Wayne wrote the document that formally created Apple, he returned to the registrar's office and renounced his role in the company", therefore relinquishing his equity in exchange for US$800 on April 12, 1976. This period of time however has been disputed by Steve Wozniak, who in an interview said that Wayne left the company after a few months.
In the late 1970s, Wayne had run a stamp shop in Milpitas, California, for a short time; it was called Wayne's Philatelics.
In the early 1990s, Wayne sold the original Apple partnership contract paper, signed in 1976 by Jobs, Wozniak, and himself, for US$500.
In 2011, the contract was sold at auction for $1.6 million.Wayne has stated that he regrets that sale.
Wayne retired to a mobile home park in Pahrump, Nevada, where he sells stamps and rare coins, and plays penny slots at a casino.
In July 2011, Wayne published a memoir titled "Adventures of an Apple Founder".
He appeared in the documentary "Welcome to Macintosh" in 2008, where he describes some of his early experiences with Jobs and Wozniak.