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 next day, the receptionist called to tell me that two men were waiting in the lobby. I went downstairs to meet Paul and Matthew, the engineers who would actually build this custom iPod. I’d love to say they wore dark glasses and trench coats and were glancing in window reflections to make sure they hadn’t been tailed, but they were perfectly normal thirty-something engineers. I signed them in, and we went to a conference room to talk.
Interesting story. The theory that is was for a secret Geiger counter seems implausible, but definitely adds some intrigue to the tale.
Very interesting background around iPod software development, too!
Finally, the iPod team developed on Windows computers. Apple didn’t have working ARM developer tools yet, because this was before the iPhone shipped. The iPod team used ARM developer tools from ARM Ltd, which ran only on Windows and Linux.