Top Secret: A surprising story about the US government and the iPod modification

In 2005, Apple allowed two US government contractors to work in its offices to develop a secret customized version of the iPod, but what exactly the iPod could do was a mystery and still is today, and what made us talk about this matter today is because of the story that the engineer told David Shayer is an engineer who previously worked for Apple for 18 years, and below we will tell the story that the engineer has revealed in detail.

How the US government created a top-secret iPod under the eyes of Steve Jobs

The story as stated by its owner:

Engineer David Shayer says: In late 2005, one day I was sitting in my office writing some codes related to the iPod. Suddenly, without knocking the door, the iPod program manager, who is my boss, came in and closed the door behind him, and told me the following: “I have a special mission for you and your boss At work he does not know, and the task is that you will help two engineers from the US Department of Energy in modifying a special iPod ”.

How the US government created a top-secret iPod under the eyes of Steve Jobs

Indeed, the next day the receptionist called me to tell me that two men were waiting in the hallway, and I went downstairs to meet Paul and Matthew, the engineers who would design this custom iPod. Of not revealing them to anyone, ”but they were very normal men of thirty years old, and I actually greeted them and we went to the meeting room to talk.

The engineers' work cards were indicating that they did not actually work for the Department of Energy but rather worked for a division of Bechtel, a large US defense contracting company affiliated with the Department of Energy, and they wanted to add some dedicated devices to an iPod and record data from this dedicated device to the iPod in a way that could not be detected. Easily, but they stipulated that it must look and function like a normal iPod and not show any signs of spying, and they made it clear that they would do everything and my only job is to provide any help they need from Apple.

How the US government created a top-secret iPod under the eyes of Steve Jobs

Later, I learned that an official in the Ministry of Energy had contacted the first vice president of Apple Devices asking him to help the company in making the customized modified iPods. Indeed, the first vice president passed the request to the vice president of the iPod department who delegated him to the iPod program manager who came to see me and told me the details as well. I indicated, it is worth noting that my manager has been told that I am working on a private project and should not ask questions.

The beginning to work on the secret iPod:

Engineer David Shayer says: I requested an empty office for both Paul and Matthew in our IS&T building, which is the Apple IT department building, and in this office the engineers were only connected to the public internet outside Apple's firewall, preventing them from accessing Apple's internal network, because If you are using WiFi then you need a VPN to bypass Apple's firewall.

Of course, this was not a collaboration with Bechtel through a contract and payment. Rather, Apple was presenting a favor under the table to the Department of Energy. It is worth noting that Paul and Matthew were not allowed to directly access the iPod source code server, so instead I gave them a copy of the code. The current source is on DVD and eventually they were allowed to keep the modified version of the iPod OS that they built.

How the US government created a top-secret iPod under the eyes of Steve Jobs

For reference, Apple did not provide them with any hardware or software tools, only I gave them the specifications for the computers they need with ARM Compiler and JTAG Corrector, and they are the ones who bought computers and iPods to work on, and they have already bought at least several dozen and maybe many more.

As is the case with all Apple buildings, everyone had to present an Apple badge to the badge reader to open the door and enter the iPod building, and only employees who were allowed into the building were allowed to enter the building, besides that on each floor there was another closed door and a badge reader, and thus Every day Paul and Matthew called me from the hallway because they didn't have the apple badges, but later I arranged a few things to get the seller badges as if they were selling coffee or anything so I didn't have to enter them daily.

Important moments:

The engineer says: Paul and Matthew were very smart and with a little help they were working very quickly and with apparent effort, I just showed them how to set up the development tools and build a copy of the operating system from the source and load it into the iPod. I also showed them how to use the JTAG debugger, which was rather difficult. What, and when they understood how the system works, they clarified what they want to do, as they added special devices to the iPod, which led to the generation of the data that they wanted to record secretly. It is worth noting that they were keen to make sure that I had never seen the devices and actually I could not see them.

How the US government created a top-secret iPod under the eyes of Steve Jobs

Then we discussed the best way to hide the data that they had recorded, and I suggested that they create another partition on the disk to store their data, in this way even if someone connects the modified iPod to a Mac or PC, iTunes will treat it as a normal iPod and they really liked this idea a lot and they started in Implemented.

Finally, after a few months of repetitive work, Paul and Matthew finished integrating their custom devices into the iPod, finished the project, moved the computers and patches to the Bechtel office, and then returned me the most recent DVD with the Apple source code along with the Apple seller badges that I had. I gave it to them and since then I haven't seen them again.

What were they doing exactly?

At the end of his speech, the engineer says: I think Paul and Matthew were building something that could be used by US Department of Energy agents without hiding it surreptitiously. It is something that seems harmless because it plays music and works just like an ordinary iPod and at the same time it is used to communicate and record evidence of radioactivity during Scanning for uranium or evidence of a bomb development program without any possibility of the press knowing what was being done, which assured me that whenever I asked them what they were building they changed the subject and started arguing about where to go to lunch.

How the US government created a top-secret iPod under the eyes of Steve Jobs

It is also worth noting that only four people at Apple knew about this secret project, and they are me, the director of the iPod program, the vice president of the iPod department and the first vice president of devices, and currently none of us is still working at Apple, and of course there was no trace of sophistication as all the communications were face to face Indeed, if you ask Apple about the secret dedicated iPod project, you will not find any comment, and the public relations employees will tell you that the company does not have a record of any such project, but the deputy of the iPod team confirmed the authenticity of the story on his Twitter account .

Tell us in the comments what you think of this exciting story? And do you think it is the only story, or is it the only story that has come out into the open.


tidbits | theverge

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