Apple worked with the US government to build a highly modified version of an iPod that remains a complete mystery to this date.
Former Apple engineer David Shayer while sharing his experience with TidBits said that it was a grey day in 2005 when the director of iPod Software asked him to help ‘two engineers from the US Department of Energy build a special iPod.’ The two engineers, Paul and Mattew, didn’t work for US DOE but for a US defense contractor Bechtel.
These engineers wanted to add some custom hardware to an iPod and record data from this piece of hardware in a way that it wouldn’t get detected easily. The trick, however, was that the iPod had to look and work like a ‘normal’ iPod so that no one would suspect that it had been modified.
The two Bechtel engineers were given an office in the Apple building and over a couple of months, they integrated their custom hardware into the iPod and changed the early iPod system. They used the fifth-generation iPod with a large 60GB space for the same. It was the last iPod for which Apple didn’t digitally sign the operating system.
While Shayer never saw the hardware himself, he believes that it was a stealth Geiger counter that could be used to monitor the level of radioactivity. He noted that only four people at Apple knew about this secret project. “Me, the director of iPod Software, the vice president of the iPod Division, and the senior vice president of Hardware. None of us still work at Apple. There was no paper trail,” he said.