Apple built a top-secret iPod for the US government

When the iPod was becoming the world’s defacto MP3 player, there was a second version of the player unknown to the general public. Only four people within Apple knew that the company was also working on a special edition for the US government.

One day in 2005, two men from a defense contractor showed up at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, saying that they were representatives of the US Department of Energy. They had a task for Apple.

“Built us an iPod that looks and works just like the real thing. But we’d also like you to put some special sensors inside. And we’d like you to add some special hardware to that tiny HDD in a way that it can’t be detected.” Apple was currently up to its fifth-gen iPod, the first one to play video.

Okay, but would this iPod be used for? Fifteen years later, it’s still unclear. One guess is that since the Department of Energy is responsible for nuclear power, the special iPods might have had something to do with that. Did they want to detect radiation in a stealthy sort of way? It’s probably of interest that the two mysterious men were actually from Bechtel, a US defense contractor.

Tony Fadell, one of the iPod’s chief designers, confirms this story.

Read the entire story of the secret iPod here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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