Apple Worked With U.S. Government on 'Secret' iPod

Apple worked with the U.S. government on a "secret" modified iPod, according to a new report by former Apple software engineer David Shayer published by TidBits.

iu 2 2

Shayer explains that in 2005, he was asked by the director of iPod software to "help two engineers from the U.S. Department of Energy build a special iPod." The engineers were in fact contractors from Bechtel, a large U.S. defense contractor. Only four individuals at Apple were aware of the project at the time, none of whom still work at the company, and there was no paper trail as all communication occurred in person.

The team set about modifying an iPod to record data from added custom hardware. It still had to look and work like a normal iPod, with any additional data recorded to the iPod's hard disk needing to be undetectable. Shayer's main role in the project was to oversee any help needed by the Department of Energy from Apple. The contractors were given an office at Apple headquarters, and over several months they were taught how to navigate and change the early iPod operating system.

The specific modified device was a fifth-generation iPod, chosen for its easily-opening case and large 60 GB disk. It was also the final iPod for which Apple did not digitally sign the operating system, allowing for easier software modification.

The Department of Energy is responsible for U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs, and in 2005 its budget was $24.3 billion. $9 billion of this budget was intended to meet defense-related objectives such as nuclear deterrence.

Shayer never saw the additional hardware personally, but believes that the iPod was modified to function as a "stealth Geiger counter." He speculates that such a device would be extremely useful for the Department of Energy when conducting covert operations to gather evidence of radioactivity.

Related Forum: iPod touch and iPod

Top Rated Comments

and 1989 others Avatar
28 months ago
I dearly miss those click wheels.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yurc Avatar
28 months ago
So if you spotted folks carrying classic iPod in 2020, clearly he isn't listening music ♪
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TurboJobo Avatar
28 months ago
Imagine having an engraved iPod that said
"Not a spying device" Lol ?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
diego.caraballo Avatar
28 months ago
When Edward Snowden leaked the NSA classified documents, one of them identified Apple as one of the companies that the government has a secret access door to. Of course Apple and I think that Tim Cook itself denied such possibility. And I always think that both possibilities can be true. Apple may think that there's not secret door, but it's really easy for the government to approach 3 or 4 key Apple engineers, extort them or just pay them, and have ears and eyes into the Apple user data. This article suggest that such thing can be done without leaving any trace inside the targeted company.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr Lizard Avatar
28 months ago
‘We don’t work with government to build secret backdoors into our products’
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
e1me5 Avatar
28 months ago
So the wheel was "clicking" in presence of radioactivity?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Don't Want the Apple Watch Ultra or Series 8? Amazon Has Record Low Prices on Series 7 Models This Week

Friday September 23, 2022 6:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are now available to purchase, but if you aren't interested in these updates you can save a lot of money on Series 7 models right now on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. The best deals are on cellular...
iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.0.2 With Bug Fixes for iPhone 14 Pro Camera Vibration, Copy/Paste Issue and More

Thursday September 22, 2022 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 16.0.2, addressing a number of bugs that iPhone 14 owners have been experiencing since the new devices launched. iOS 16.0.2 comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 16, and it follows iOS 16.0.1, an update made available to iPhone 14 owners on launch day. The update is available for all iPhones that are capable of running iOS 16. The iOS 16.0.2 update can be...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

New 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Reportedly Launching Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 7:08 am PDT by
Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report does not mention specific models, but it very likely refers to the next-generation 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros given that the 13-inch model was already updated earlier this year. There has been uncertainty surrounding the timing of new 14-inch and...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
Dynamic Island For Android Users Feature

Android App Copying iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island Released on Play Store

Thursday September 22, 2022 7:57 am PDT by
A copycat version of the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island has arrived on Android's Google Play Store in the form of an app called "dynamicSpot." The app, still in beta, offers customers several different experiences at the top of their smartphones. In its current form, dynamicSpot offers playback control for songs, timers, battery status, and more features coming soon, according to the app's...
AirPods Pro Second Generation 2 Pairing Feature 1

AirPods Pro 2 Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting

Friday September 23, 2022 9:40 am PDT by
Customers who personalize their second-generation AirPods Pro charging case with an engraving will now have that engraving reflected directly on iOS as they pair and connect their AirPods Pro. Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods...
Apple Watch 6 New Features Feature 2

Six New Apple Watch Features Coming Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 8:12 am PDT by
With new Apple Watch Ultra and Series 8 models now in the hands of customers, Apple has brought a host of smart new features to many people's wrists. But there's more to come. Apple has a handful of additional features in store for Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra owners before the year's end, and some of them are watchOS 9 functions, which means they will even work on older Apple ...
new airpods pro ear tips

Apple Explains Why Second-Generation AirPods Pro Ear Tips Are Incompatible With Original AirPods Pro

Thursday September 22, 2022 3:12 pm PDT by
Apple today explained why the new silicone ear tips for the second-generation AirPods Pro are not officially compatible with the original AirPods Pro. In an updated support document, Apple said the original AirPods Pro ear tips have "noticeably denser mesh" than the second-generation ear tips. Apple did not provide any additional details, but the mesh density could result in acoustical...