Apple engineer briefly discusses early iPhone work, hardware development security

Posted:
in iPhone
Ex-Apple engineer Terry Lambert responsible for a large portion of the OS X kernel took to Quora to answer a question about the genesis of the iPhone, and surrounding secrecy.




In the Quora post asking about the original iPhone, Lambert claims that he wrote 6% of the MacOS Kernel as measured by lines of code, or about 100,000 lines a year, much of which was repurposed for the iOS kernel.

Calling the original effort "Project Purple," Lambert said that he was brought in "late in the game" and mostly for debugging purposes. The engineer discussed not even seeing the product he was working on initially.

"I got taken into areas where there were black cloths everywhere," said Lambert. "I only got to see the machine doing the remote debugging, not the target -- but it was obviously an ARM based system."

Lambert confirmed the suspicion that Apple uses multiple names for the same project, probably as an effort to suss out leakers.

"Another thing that Apple does is they give different code names to different groups," recalled Lambert. "In other words you may be working on the same project as someone else, and not actually know it. Or be allowed to discuss it."

Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously had tiers of access to the building that the iPhone was being developed in. In a form of compartmentalized security, engineers working on the least secret aspects of the program were limited to just that aspect, with workers involved on the core of the hardware, including the material design, had many tiers of security to pass thorough.

"You may have access to the regular lab, but not the 'secret lab,'" said Lambert. "You didn't really get to see the form factor, because when you are doing the initial work, it's all prototypes on plexiglass."

Lambert worked for IBM for several years in the '90s before joining Apple in 2003. The coder left Apple in Oct. 2010 to spend about two years at Google.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    Then they let Google on the Board to steal the iPhone. Oh well.
    caliwatto_cobratallest skil
  • Reply 2 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,636administrator
    As a reminder to most of the commenters that previously remarked on this article, we have a commenter's code of conduct to follow. 

    Read it again.
    gatorguymacxpresspatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    Then they let Google on the Board to steal the iPhone. Oh well.
    Yet Google was surprised by the features and functions when the iPhone was publically revealed. How could both statements be true? If Schmidt "stole the iPhone" while serving on Apple's board.

    Anyway regarding the veil of secrecy and the efforts put into sealing leaks did anyone note that another big tech is being sued over similar efforts to keep product leaks to a minimum? According to the complaint and California law and labor codes much of the secrecy that's expected of employees is illegal. 

    cali
    said:
    Then they let Google on the Board to steal the iPhone. Oh well.
    Yet Google was surprised by the features and functions when the iPhone was publically revealed. How could both statements be true? If they "stole the iPhone" they wouldn't have been surprised when they saw it. 

    Anyway regarding the veil of secrecy and the efforts put into sealing leaks did anyone note that another big tech is being sued over similar efforts to keep product leaks to a minimum? According to the complaint and California law and labor codes much of the secrecy that's expected of employees is illegal. 
    Yeah android iknockoffs aren't a ripoff at all.....


    OEM's definitely and without question mimicked the iPhone. But Schmidt stole iPhone secrets and took them back to Google so they could copy it? Obviously untrue if Google was surprised when they saw it. Common sense. 
    edited December 2016 caliRayz2016patchythepiratetallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 28
    Watching Steve Jobs introduce the IPhone and 3 things struck me:
    1)  This was NOT about him or anything he had done.  It was about the product and what it would do for US!  Total humility.

    But more relevant to today:
    2)  It ported OSX (MacOS) to the IPhone
    3)  It put "Desktop Class" power on the IPhone.

    So obviously Steve Jobs saw the connection between what would become MacOS and IOS -- that they were just different versions of the same thing.  
    So, Why does today's Apple insist that they will forever remain separate and different?   That they will never be merged -- even though IOS started as a variation of MacOS?

    Have they lost the vision and common sense that Jobs nutured?

    p.s. Watch the video starting at the 29 minute mark where Jobs equates the mouse and touch as just different UI's -- variations on a theme.  Then he introduces that OSX was ported to the IPhone and provides it with "Desktop Class" applications.
    edited December 2016 calistantheman
  • Reply 5 of 28
    Watching that video made me feel something I haven't felt in quite sometime with apple - INSPIRED!  To think that after this came the iPad?  WOW!  Man to I miss Steve and his visions!  
    calistanthemanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    Watching Steve Jobs introduce the IPhone and 3 things struck me:
    1)  This was NOT about him or anything he had done.  It was about the product and what it would do for US!  Total humility.

    But more relevant to today:
    2)  It ported OSX (MacOS) to the IPhone
    3)  It put "Desktop Class" power on the IPhone.

    So obviously Steve Jobs saw the connection between what would become MacOS and IOS -- that they were just different versions of the same thing.  
    So, Why does today's Apple insist that they will forever remain separate and different?   That they will never be merged -- even though IOS started as a variation of MacOS?

    Have they lost the vision and common sense that Jobs nutured?

    p.s. Watch the video starting at the 29 minute mark where Jobs equates the mouse and touch as just different UI's -- variations on a theme.  Then he introduces that OSX was ported to the IPhone and provides it with "Desktop Class" applications.
    You're misunderstanding Jobs, who himself stressed that OS X on a touchscreen was a terrible idea. 

    Forking branches of code from one source doesnt suddenly mandate their implementations and UI be identical. The kernel is the power underneath, but the UI is widely dependent on the interface and form factor. Example -- watchOS is derived from iOS which is derived from OS X. Should the watchOS UI look like OS X with a desktop, folders metaphor, dock, etc? No, that would be absurd, the screen is way too small. For these same reason iOS devices needn't look like OS X devices. UI is dependent on form factor and use cases, not what's under the hood.
    edited December 2016 roundaboutnowpatchythepirateSolipscooter63ai46watto_cobradesignrmacplusplusbb-15redgeminipa
  • Reply 7 of 28
    jdwjdw Posts: 753member
    You're misunderstanding Jobs, who himself stressed that OS X on a touchscreen was a terrible idea.
    If a Steve Jobs "terrible idea" quote indicates "a misunderstanding of Jobs," then you too might just misunderstand him seeing that Jobs also said any form factor for the iPad (e.g., the Mini and 12" Pro) would be a bad idea. Jobs has changed his mind numerous times and even pushed his own people (somewhat indirectly, of course) to change his mind. The ones who did persuade Jobs to Think Different often became his prized people.
    edited December 2016 caliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,897member
    I wonder if Apple is still this secretive today with their projects? How does this impact how products are developed (brand new or existing)? I can't imaging working on something not knowing why or what for?
    edited December 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 28
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    gatorguy said:
    Then they let Google on the Board to steal the iPhone. Oh well.
    Yet Google was surprised by the features and functions when the iPhone was publically revealed. How could both statements be true? If they "stole the iPhone" they wouldn't have been surprised when they saw it. 

    Anyway regarding the veil of secrecy and the efforts put into sealing leaks did anyone note that another big tech is being sued over similar efforts to keep product leaks to a minimum? According to the complaint and California law and labor codes much of the secrecy that's expected of employees is illegal. 
    Yeah android iknockoffs aren't a ripoff at all.....


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 28
    I have a friend that works for Apple and he states that he has no idea of what product(s) his design will go in and he often doesn't even know after it's introduced. Apple has some very secretive silos going on there...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    gatorguy said:
    OEM's definitely and without question mimicked the iPhone. But Schmidt stole iPhone secrets and took them back to Google so they could copy it? Obviously untrue if Google was surprised when they saw it. Common sense. 

    If an engineer working on the code didn't even see the iPhone or have access to many R&D areas, then I doubt Schmidt (or other board members) did. However, it's ridiculous to think Schmidt didn't know ANYTHING about the iPhone. Jobs reaction to Google and Android pretty much sums things up - he felt betrayed by Schmidt, Brin and Page.

    Google acting "surprised" doesn't mean a damn thing and it's certainly not common sense. It's what people do when they know inside information about a product, but aren't allowed to talk about it. You pretend that it's something new you haven't seen before. Did you also forget that Google Maps was on the original iPhone and demonstrated at the keynote? Or that Eric Schmidt was invited on stage by Jobs?

    Schmidt didn't steal everything from the iPhone, but to pretend he didn't have a good idea about the iPhone is asinine.
    patchythepirateai46watto_cobraStrangeDaysbb-15
  • Reply 12 of 28
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,630member
    gatorguy said:
    Then they let Google on the Board to steal the iPhone. Oh well.
    Yet Google was surprised by the features and functions when the iPhone was publically revealed. 
    Well, he would say that, wouldn't he

    watto_cobrabb-15
  • Reply 13 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    As a reminder to most of the commenters that previously remarked on this article, we have a commenter's code of conduct to follow. 

    Read it again.
    For those that don't know, it's at the very bottom of every forum page under the link text Commenting Guidelines.
    pscooter63ai46watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    gatorguy said:
    Yet Google was surprised by the features and functions when the iPhone was publically revealed. How could both statements be true? If they "stole the iPhone" they wouldn't have been surprised when they saw
    I don't understand the dilemma. You see something amazing that you didn't think was possible, and then you copy it after you've seen it done and/or can use someone else's efforts as a template. The history of the technology is filled with more copycats, clones, and knockoffs, than original and groundbreaking ideas.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member

    Watching Steve Jobs introduce the IPhone and 3 things struck me:
    1)  This was NOT about him or anything he had done.  It was about the product and what it would do for US!  Total humility.

    But more relevant to today:
    2)  It ported OSX (MacOS) to the IPhone
    3)  It put "Desktop Class" power on the IPhone.

    So obviously Steve Jobs saw the connection between what would become MacOS and IOS -- that they were just different versions of the same thing.  
    So, Why does today's Apple insist that they will forever remain separate and different?   That they will never be merged -- even though IOS started as a variation of MacOS?

    Have they lost the vision and common sense that Jobs nutured?

    p.s. Watch the video starting at the 29 minute mark where Jobs equates the mouse and touch as just different UI's -- variations on a theme.  Then he introduces that OSX was ported to the IPhone and provides it with "Desktop Class" applications.
    Let's remember that they didn't put macOS onto the iPhone or iPad. They also didn't put iOS on the Watch. They took core elements and then created and entirely new OS for that HW and UI. It should be clear that a smartphone OS will NEVER be the same OS as on a 27" iMac.
    watto_cobradesignrsphericbb-15
  • Reply 16 of 28
    "But Schmidt stole iPhone secrets and took them back to Google so they could copy it? Obviously untrue if Google was surprised when they saw it. Common sense." So, you think Schmidt wasn't primed to affirm the 'new' Android direction when it was reported to him? If he hadn't known about iPhone development, maybe he would have laughed at it as Blackberry did.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,752member
    Soli said:
    gatorguy said:
    Yet Google was surprised by the features and functions when the iPhone was publically revealed. How could both statements be true? If they "stole the iPhone" they wouldn't have been surprised when they saw
    I don't understand the dilemma. You see something amazing that you didn't think was possible, and then you copy it after you've seen it done and/or can use someone else's efforts as a template. The history of the technology is filled with more copycats, clones, and knockoffs, than original and groundbreaking ideas.


    You are absolutely correct sir. 
  • Reply 18 of 28
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,510member
    As a reminder to most of the commenters that previously remarked on this article, we have a commenter's code of conduct to follow. 

    Read it again.
    Damn, what did I miss? I watched the whole video while all the action came and went.
    edited December 2016 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    jdw said:
    You're misunderstanding Jobs, who himself stressed that OS X on a touchscreen was a terrible idea.
    If a Steve Jobs "terrible idea" quote indicates "a misunderstanding of Jobs," then you too might just misunderstand him seeing that Jobs also said any form factor for the iPad (e.g., the Mini and 12" Pro) would be a bad idea. Jobs has changed his mind numerous times and even pushed his own people (somewhat indirectly, of course) to change his mind. The ones who did persuade Jobs to Think Different often became his prized people.
    No. Jobs' comments on smaller tablets was based on the constraints of the day, which were pre-high-res panels. At the time he was right, today he would not be; surely he would have little problem pivoting when the time was right as he had many times before.

    Regardless, my point was that George's suggestion that Jobs had a vision of merging full-fledged OS X and touch devices is bunk. The same people who sat next to him then say the same thing today -- a touch-based OS on a vertical screen that is designed for mice pointers is not pleasant to use.
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 20 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,975member
    jdw said:
    You're misunderstanding Jobs, who himself stressed that OS X on a touchscreen was a terrible idea.
    If a Steve Jobs "terrible idea" quote indicates "a misunderstanding of Jobs," then you too might just misunderstand him seeing that Jobs also said any form factor for the iPad (e.g., the Mini and 12" Pro) would be a bad idea. Jobs has changed his mind numerous times and even pushed his own people (somewhat indirectly, of course) to change his mind. The ones who did persuade Jobs to Think Different often became his prized people.
    No. Jobs' comments on smaller tablets was based on the constraints of the day, which were pre-high-res panels. At the time he was right, today he would not be; surely he would have little problem pivoting when the time was right as he had many times before.

    Regardless, my point was that George's suggestion that Jobs wanted to merge full-fledged OS X onto iOS devices is bunk.
    And let's remember that Project Purple started out as a tablet and then evolved into the iPhone before eventually coming back around for the iPad once the HW (and UI) were ready. Clearly Jobs wasn't against the notion of a tablet or the entire project never would have started.
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