Lend a hand in 2005, sooner than the iPhone, Apple purportedly helped a U.S. Division of Energy contractor regulate a fifth-expertise iPod to secretly story and retailer recordsdata. The true reason why remains a mystery, but an ex-Apple engineer serious about the project thinks it’ll were a surreptitious Geiger counter.
This bonkers narrative comes courtesy of David Shayer, a aged Apple tool engineer who change into once with the corporate for 18 years and labored on devices such because the iPod and Apple Learn. Shayer, who wrote the narrative for TidBITS, recounts a “gray day in leisurely 2005” when his boss’s boss, the director of iPod tool, told him that he change into once assigned to a top-secret project with two engineers from the U.S. Division of Energy to construct a “particular iPod.”
In actuality, the 2 engineers had been from Bechtel, a U.S. protection contractor for the DOE. The demand change into once to construct a normal, functioning iPod that would also secretly story recordsdata onto custom hardware. In other words, some survey-level shit. On the time, the iPod wasn’t a critically easy tool to alter. That’s because in step with Shayer, the iPod’s working machine wasn’t in step with any other Apple working machine. As a replace, it change into once in step with a “reference platform Apple purchased from an organization known as Portal Player” and cobbled alongside with code from Pixo, an organization began by aged Apple engineers who wrote a “frequent-motive cell cellphone working machine.” TL;DR—the iPod OS change into once advanced, and there wasn’t a easy manner to resolve out how it labored without abet from Apple.
All the intention through Shayer’s story, it’s obvious that secrecy change into once paramount. Shayer fundamentally shepherded the 2 Bechtel engineers—Paul and Matthew—through the process but acknowledged Apple didn’t present any hardware or tool. Likewise, while Shayer gave them the instruments they needed to resolve out how to construct the tool, he says he never saw the custom hardware Paul and Matthew added to their modified iPod. When it came time to resolve out how to cloak the recorded recordsdata, Shayer quick they construct a hidden partition so that if someone plugged the secret iPod sincere into a computer, “iTunes would take care of it as a normal iPod and it would possibly well well maybe well well glance delight in long-established iPod in the Mac Finder or Home windows Explorer.”
G/O Media would possibly well well simply salvage a price
At Apple, Shayer says, no story change into once kept of the project, and easiest four other folks, including Shayer, knew about it the least bit. (None of the four silent works at Apple.) As for what the tool change into once veteran for… no one actually knows. Shayer believes it change into once doubtless a form of Geiger counter DOE brokers would possibly well well use to surreptitiously story radioactivity levels while performing to listen to music.
It’s now not terribly ravishing that the U.S. executive would possibly well maybe technique a necessary tech company for abet with this more or much less factor. There are reasons why executives at these corporations fundamentally accept as true with a executive safety clearance—and Steve Jobs change into once no exception. While it’s now not clear why Jobs change into once given top safety clearance, Wired notes that it’ll simply accept as true with had one thing to manufacture with his work at Pixar, which change into once reduced in size by intelligence agencies for rendering reconnaissance flight and satellite recordsdata the usage of its Pixar Picture Laptop.
While we would possibly well well simply never know what that custom iPod change into once veteran for, thanks to Shayer’s narrative—which is basically a big be taught—we manufacture understand it existed. If that’s now not fodder for Apple conspiracy theories, I don’t know what’s.