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  • Apple Engineer Fired for Letting Woz Use an iPad


    An interesting story has emerged in the wake of the Gizmodo/iPhone controversy. Steve Wozniak, in a message to Gizmodo editors, related the tale of how an Apple engineer was summarily terminated for showing him an iPad after midnight on April 3, the day of the official product launch. Although the engineer had an email saying he had permission to take the iPad out of the secure area, apparently showing it was verboten, and he lost his job. In comparison, the engineer who lost his iPad is still going to work in Cupertino every day.

    Steve Wozniak founded Apple with Steve Jobs back in 1976, when Jobs was 16 and Woz was 21. Woz was always the engineer while Jobs was more of a hustler: Woz helped Jobs win an award at Atari by reducing the number of chips needed for a circuit board by 50 (Jobs told Woz they'd split the prize, but Jobs only gave Woz $350 of the $5000 he won). Though Woz is still an Apple employee, he hasn't worked there since 1987. He still remains an enthusiastic supporter of Apple products, showing up at the Apple Store near his home in Silicon Valley for every iPod and iPhone launch, waiting in line like everyone else.

    Woz was in touch with an iPad engineer, "A.J.," a guy that Woz said "resembled myself and Steve Jobs when we were that age, and my younger son who programs for NASA." A.J. got an email saying he could take the iPad out of its secure area after midnight on April 3. So he showed it to Steve Wozniak, who was waiting for an iPad of his own. Woz spent about two minutes playing with Numbers, and gave the iPad back. When word got out (whether he told his superiors or they found out about it from reading Gizmodo), A.J. was fired. Woz hadn't told anybody anything about the iPad before the official launch... and in fact didn't speak to anyone about it until now.

    This is one of those stories that seems outrageous until you dig into the details. At first, I thought A.J. got a raw deal compared to Gray Powell... after all, he showed the iPad to Stephen Fricking Wozniak, an Apple employee, and the guy without whom there probably wouldn't be an Apple, or an iPad. However, having written a story about Woz at the launch, I knew he was at the Valley Fair Mall at midnight on the 3rd, and sure enough, there is a TwitPic of him using the iPad there. So there's a significant shade of difference between showing another Apple employee an iPad at Apple, and taking it out of the company headquarters and driving down to the mall with it in the middle of the night. What's more (though Woz says he didn't realize it at the time), the iPad he was using was an unreleased 3G model. So there's a bit more to this story than there initially appears.

    Few would argue that Apple isn't a very secretive company. And it's usually not technical secrets they're protecting, but things like design and features that they try and keep from the general public until they're ready to announce it. It can be aggravating to read about people losing their jobs for breaking this cone of silence, but when you sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), you are legally bound by its terms. The kid sounds cool, though, and fortunately he got another job right away after Apple canned him.

    image via TwitPic
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Engineer Fired for Letting Woz Use an iPad started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. quicknight's Avatar
      quicknight -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post


      An interesting story has emerged in the wake of the Gizmodo/iPhone controversy. Steve Wozniak, in a message to Gizmodo editors, related the tale of how an Apple engineer was summarily terminated for showing him an iPad after midnight on April 3, the day of the official product launch. Although the engineer had an email saying he had permission to take the iPad out of the secure area, apparently showing it was verboten, and he lost his job. In comparison, the engineer who lost his iPad is still going to work in Cupertino every day.

      Steve Wozniak founded Apple with Steve Jobs back in 1976, when Jobs was 16 and Woz was 21. Woz was always the engineer while Jobs was more of a hustler: Woz helped Jobs win an award at Atari by reducing the number of chips needed for a circuit board by 50 (Jobs told Woz they'd split the prize, but Jobs only gave Woz $350 of the $5000 he won). Though Woz is still an Apple employee, he hasn't worked there since 1987. He still remains an enthusiastic supporter of Apple products, showing up at the Apple Store near his home in Silicon Valley for every iPod and iPhone launch, waiting in line like everyone else.

      Woz was in touch with an iPad engineer, "A.J.," a guy that Woz said "resembled myself and Steve Jobs when we were that age, and my younger son who programs for NASA." A.J. got an email saying he could take the iPad out of its secure area after midnight on April 3. So he showed it to Steve Wozniak, who was waiting for an iPad of his own. Woz spent about two minutes playing with Numbers, and gave the iPad back. When word got out (whether he told his superiors or they found out about it from reading Gizmodo), A.J. was fired. Woz hadn't told anybody anything about the iPad before the official launch... and in fact didn't speak to anyone about it until now.

      This is one of those stories that seems outrageous until you dig into the details. At first, I thought A.J. got a raw deal compared to Gray Powell... after all, he showed the iPad to Stephen Fricking Wozniak, an Apple employee, and the guy without whom there probably wouldn't be an Apple, or an iPad. However, having written a story about Woz at the launch, I knew he was at the Valley Fair Mall at midnight on the 3rd, and sure enough, there is a TwitPic of him using the iPad there. So there's a significant shade of difference between showing another Apple employee an iPad at Apple, and taking it out of the company headquarters and driving down to the mall with it in the middle of the night. What's more (though Woz says he didn't realize it at the time), the iPad he was using was an unreleased 3G model. So there's a bit more to this story than there initially appears.

      Few would argue that Apple isn't a very secretive company. And it's usually not technical secrets they're protecting, but things like design and features that they try and keep from the general public until they're ready to announce it. It can be aggravating to read about people losing their jobs for breaking this cone of silence, but when you sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), you are legally bound by its terms. The kid sounds cool, though, and fortunately he got another job right away after Apple canned him.

      image via TwitPic
      Entertaining story. Thanks for bringing it to us. There are a few items, however, on which I am still confused.

      1) At the end of the first paragraph, I believe you used the word "iPad" when you intended to say "iPhone." A quick Google search of "Gray Powell" confirmed this for me. Please edit this to prevent further confusion.

      2) "Woz" technically is still an employee, as you say earlier in the paragraph, but then you say that the terms of his contract prohibit him from "showing another Apple employee an iPad at Apple" which seems like exactly what he did--with written permission!

      3) You contrast the "hypothetical" scenario in #2 with "driving down to the mall with it in the middle of the night." If this is what actually happened, I didn't see any reference to it earlier in the story, so it seemed like he may have been at the mall for the launch and removed one of the devices from the store, UNTIL you mention that it was "an unreleased 3G model" which was news to me. Is there a "source" for this claim? Given the history between "Woz" and Jobs it seems like there may be more under the surface.

      4) Can you elaborate more on "Woz's" relationship with Apple? It sounds like he's just basically on the payroll but doesn't work. Is this Jobs' retribution for screwing him over with the $1150? ([$3000/2]-$350)

      Thanks, in advance, for any clarity you can brind to my questions. Again, fascinating story!
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Wow...more obscure terms and agreements. I'm really starting to hate Jobs.
    1. remag49's Avatar
      remag49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by EdmundGerber View Post
      Jobs is an enormous douchebag
      i totally agree
    1. NessLookAlike's Avatar
      NessLookAlike -
      Steve Jobs is an enormous ***hole and a cutthroat.. why are people surprised? I'm not.

      How do you think he got where he is now? How do you think any of the world's leading industry giants got where they are? Splitting profits evenly, politely fulfilling every promise, and always respecting the rights of others? Grow up guys, seriously.

      Kudos to A.J. for immediately picking up a different (and hopefully) better job.

      EDIT: Woz is awesome.
    1. xxtkevinxxte's Avatar
      xxtkevinxxte -
      It's obvious that the case is that Steve Jobs is jealous of Woz, or has something personal against Woz.
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post
      [IMG]Woz helped Jobs win an award at Atari by reducing the number of chips needed for a circuit board by 50 (Jobs told Woz they'd split the prize, but Jobs only gave Woz $350 of the $5000 he won).
      if thats true, the Steve Jobs wikipedia entry needs editing.
      It says there that, even though promised $100 for every chip he redeuced, was only paid $700 instead of the $5000.
    1. quicknight's Avatar
      quicknight -
      Quote Originally Posted by xxtkevinxxte View Post
      It's obvious that the case is that Steve Jobs is jealous of Woz, or has something personal against Woz.
      Are you saying that the AJ firing was a "trumped up" case because of Jobs? If Woz is still an "Apple employee," then I'm guessing its some sort of court-ordered non-disclosure settlement or something. Any lawyers care to comment?

      It just seems weird that the employee seeming attempted to get clearance and got screwed in the process. Did Woz use him? Was he a "Woz plant?"

      Inquiring minds want to know! LOL
    1. reznor9's Avatar
      reznor9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post
      In comparison, the engineer who lost his iPad is still going to work in Cupertino every day.
      Dont you mean in comparision to the engineer who lost his 4th Gen iPhone?

      Or was there a lost iPad I never read about?
    1. franciz's Avatar
      franciz -
      pretty sure there's more to it than a just a simple firing.Woz is still part of Apple so this is kinda weird. HMMMMMMP !!!
    1. jaylen555's Avatar
      jaylen555 -
      If Woz is still an Apple employee, then him and the guy that got fired definitely agreed to the non disclosure statement. but what i dont get is, if thats the case, then u cannot fire because he just showed it to someone who is bound by the same legal terms. I just dont get it.
    1. mactwisted's Avatar
      mactwisted -
      i am sure apple is a great company to work for, but it seems a little to easy to get let go for seemingly minor offenses. Woz is an employee and a founder, showing him a product of a company he loves and helped create, is not a dismissible offense (from my perspective, of course.)
    1. Imsorussian's Avatar
      Imsorussian -
      No wonder we getting ripped off for ipad. Wozniak for prezident.
    1. hitman10's Avatar
      hitman10 -
      He got what he deserved.
    1. terraphantm's Avatar
      terraphantm -
      I don't get it, the guy showed it after launch, and the design differences between the 3G model and the wifi model have been known for quite a while now. + Woz was given a 3G model for personal use anyway.
    1. quicknight's Avatar
      quicknight -
      Quote Originally Posted by reznor9 View Post
      Dont you mean in comparision to the engineer who lost his 4th Gen iPhone?

      Or was there a lost iPad I never read about?
      yeah! that's what I was trying to say in post #22 (among other things--lol)

      Quote Originally Posted by terraphantm View Post
      I don't get it, the guy showed it after launch, and the design differences between the 3G model and the wifi model have been known for quite a while now. + Woz was given a 3G model for personal use anyway.
      There's SOMTHING ELSE they're not telling us...but isn't that ALWAYS the case?
    1. Krazyfool88's Avatar
      Krazyfool88 -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post

      an Apple engineer was summarily terminated for showing him an iPad after midnight on April 3, the day of the official product launch. Although the engineer had an email saying he had permission to take the iPad out of the secure area

      A.J. got an email saying he could take the iPad out of its secure area after midnight on April 3.
      What did he do wrong?
    1. reagan5194's Avatar
      reagan5194 -
      Quote Originally Posted by extremzocker View Post
      if thats true, the Steve Jobs wikipedia entry needs editing.
      It says there that, even though promised $100 for every chip he redeuced, was only paid $700 instead of the $5000.

      this below is quoted from wiki


      Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia View Post
      According to Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Atari had offered US$100 for each chip that was reduced in the machine. Jobs had little interest or knowledge in circuit board design and made a deal with Wozniak to split the bonus evenly between them if Wozniak could minimize the number of chips. Much to the amazement of Atari, Wozniak reduced the number of chips by 50, a design so tight that it was impossible to reproduce on an assembly line. At the time, Jobs told Wozniak that Atari had only given them $700 (instead of the actual $5000) and that Wozniak's share was thus $350.
    1. Fallguy's Avatar
      Fallguy -
      I can see if he showed it to Bill Gates , then that would be grounds for termination . This just shows you how paranoid Jobs is .
    1. mactwisted's Avatar
      mactwisted -
      @Fallguy
      true that!
    1. pyromcr's Avatar
      pyromcr -
      thats stupid. i would have let woz use one. how could you say no to that guy?