Apple built a ‘secret’ iPod for US government
Apple reportedly worked closely with the US government on the development of a “top secret iPod,” according to former senior Apple engineer David Shayer.
Detailed in a report by TidBits, Shayer tells the story of how Apple worked with engineers from a large US defense contractor to create a custom fifth-generation iPod with special government hardware and the ability to record data from the hardware to the iPod’s disk in a way that couldn’t be easily detected.
Shayer claims only four people inside Apple knew of the secret US defense assignment, and the details of how the custom iPods would be used was never fully disclosed to Apple.
It was a gray day in late 2005. I was sitting at my desk, writing code for the next year’s iPod. Without knocking, the director of iPod Software—my boss’s boss—abruptly entered and closed the door behind him. He cut to the chase. “I have a special assignment for you. Your boss doesn’t know about it. You’ll help two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod. Report only to me.”
The story details how Shayler’s role was to make sure the US defense contractors had the training and resources they needed to develop the secret device, which he believes was used as a stealth Geiger counter.
They had added special hardware to the iPod, which generated data they wanted to record secretly. They were careful to make sure I never saw the hardware, and I never did.