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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. TheAaronHarris's Avatar
      TheAaronHarris -
      Wow juss for showing Wozniak, outrageous!
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      I think woz should use his power at apple to get this guy his job back
    1. robben10's Avatar
      robben10 -
      I agree, just for showing him.... Looool
    1. waheedtarin's Avatar
      waheedtarin -
      Man apple got more security then the pentigon and white house
    1. Ticko's Avatar
      Ticko -
      man thats ridiculous if anyone should have a sneak peek woz is the one poor guy getting fired is outrageous
    1. 1shuttle1's Avatar
      1shuttle1 -
      Woz should b*tch slap Steve and tell him to give this guy his job back. And by the way where's the rest of my money from the Atari award.
    1. EdmundGerber's Avatar
      EdmundGerber -
      Jobs is an enormous douchebag
    1. domaid's Avatar
      domaid -
      Steve Jobs clearly f**ks Woz about and he just takes it?
    1. chris102192's Avatar
      chris102192 -
      Wow, the minute i heard about his firing, i was lost...
      thank goodness i still work for them, and you guys are right. once you sign the non-disclosure agreement. you are legally bound. Doesnt matter if you took it to an apple employee... Intense rules, but its how the company keeps information out of the publics hands until they want to release.
    1. itaintrite's Avatar
      itaintrite -
      Quote Originally Posted by chris102192 View Post
      Wow, the minute i heard about his firing, i was lost...
      thank goodness i still work for them, and you guys are right. once you sign the non-disclosure agreement. you are legally bound. Doesnt matter if you took it to an apple employee... Intense rules, but its how the company keeps information out of the publics hands until they want to release.
      I agree. It might sound bad for Apple, but he clearly violated the terms of his agreement. They have every rights to fire him. Can't make an exception just because.
    1. ExileTEAM's Avatar
      ExileTEAM -
      the NDA is serious, they take No Tolerance for it.
    1. jetlorider's Avatar
      jetlorider -
      without Woz....Jobs is nothing
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      Jobs didn't give half of the price to Woz? I don't like Jobs that much anymore.
    1. vedavis's Avatar
      vedavis -
      Yes, the guy violated the NDA, and must pay the consequences.

      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post
      Though Woz is still an Apple employee, he hasn't worked there since 1987.
      Although the above statement is correct, it appears Woz has always been a non-person to Jobs. Otherwise, couldn't he have approached his one-time business partner and seen the damned thing? Jobs will always be the visionary, and the cut-throat, step-on-everyone mantra has led AAPL to the top, but Woz is a teddy bear of guy. Cut the guy a break, Steve.
    1. Truckerbear's Avatar
      Truckerbear -
      I also work for Apple and they should read this: YOU'LL NEVER FIGURE OUT WHO I AM! Its ridiculous that this employee got fired. This is the reason I don't just have a iPhone I also have a Motorola Droid! The control Apple shows is way out of hand.
    1. QWood13's Avatar
      QWood13 -
      I agree with Chris. And you do realize the 3G model hadn't been released??? They didn't want anyone to see it until it was launched
    1. Robby23's Avatar
      Robby23 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Truckerbear View Post
      I also work for Apple and they should read this: YOU'LL NEVER FIGURE OUT WHO I AM! Its ridiculous that this employee got fired. This is the reason I don't just have a iPhone I also have a Motorola Droid! The control Apple shows is way out of hand.
      People who pretend to work for apple are pathetic. Grow up kid
    1. Jahooba's Avatar
      Jahooba -
      I work for Apple, too. In fact, all of us here at Modmyi work for Apple. DON'T TELL STEVE.
    1. ZmanGroup's Avatar
      ZmanGroup -
      wow
    1. cypherpunk's Avatar
      cypherpunk -
      This makes no sense. Wozniak is one of Apple's biggest shareholders - and what's more, after he realized that the employee was violating the NDA, he apparently mentioned it to Steve Jobs who himself said it was "no big deal". In other words, this employee was fired even though both of the biggest names at Apple were against it.

      The fact that it was in a mall shouldn't have made any difference, given that it was AFTER midnight on the day of the launch.