One of the Craziest Computer Stories I've Ever Read"¦

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Somehow, I'd never heard about this, but I saw links to it from Digg and Newsweek, and thought it was too fascinating not to report on. Apparently, this guy Ron Avitzur was working for Apple and his project got canceled, but he decided he wanted to keep working on it so he just kept showing up for work. (He refers to people secretly working on "dead" Apple projects as skunkworks, and I'd love to find out about more of them.) Anyway, he worked for 6 months on it, sneaking into the building every day. And though he was never employed by Apple, he managed to build a small team there, get support from other engineers, and even got the product secretly placed into computers. Insane! His account's pretty fascinating, and well-written (despite the fact I'm a technological dunce) but here's a short excerpt:

  • Why did Greg and I do something so ludicrous as sneaking into an eight-billion-dollar corporation to do volunteer work? Apple was having financial troubles then, so we joked that we were volunteering for a nonprofit organization. In reality, our motivation was complex. Partly, the PowerPC was an awesome machine, and we wanted to show off what could be done with it"¦ Partly, we were thinking of the storytelling value. Partly, it was a macho computer guy thing - we had never shipped a million copies of software before. Mostly, Greg and I felt that creating quality educational software was a public service. We were doing it to help kids learn math. Public schools are too poor to buy software, so the most effective way to deliver it is to install it at the factory"¦ We wanted to release a Windows version as part of Windows 98, but sadly, Microsoft has effective building security.

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August 7, 2006 - 8:44am
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