Ex-Apple engineer talks about working on the original iPhone and how Apple handles secret projects


Terry Lambert was a Senior Software Engineer at Apple between 2003 and 2010. He is responsible for approximately 6% of Apple's Mac OS X core code (also called kernel). As such, he got the opportunity to work on the original iPhone, when it needed some kernel debugging.

Recently Terry took to Quora to answer the question what it was like working on the original Apple iPhone project, codenamed Purple. The engineer shared that he “didn't get read in on Purple until later in the game”. He was only brought in due to his skills in debugging kernel and that was his primary duty with the project.

He shared some of his experience with Apple's secrecy, saying that he was introduced to the project unofficially at first. “At some point you just have to wing it, because it's more important to ship product that it is to be overly anal about secrecy,” Lambert said.


And if you think that this is some serious effort to cover-up a project, you will definitely like this next bit. According to Lambert, Apple gives different groups of employees different code names for the same project. So, two teams could be working on the same project without even realizing it.

And to actually be given the code name of the project, employees had to sign an NDA that would grant them access to a second NDA with the code name on it. “You couldn't see the code name, until you agreed not to discuss the code name,” as Lambert put it.

Lambert also shared a few more minor details. If you want to read the complete answer, you can find it in the source link below.

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6 Comments

1. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3106; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

You're debugging it wrong.

2. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Good perspective on the iPhone.

3. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

Microsoft has an underground sound proof vault.

4. Rich123

Posts: 88; Member since: Oct 30, 2014

No wonder Apple has software bugs in new releases. No one knows what the others are doing. They can't test out complete systems until betas are released to developers and there are still problems.

5. miketer

Posts: 520; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

This is a way of working on projects right from the first iPhone. Bugs got nothing to do with how they work since the initial models were great products.

6. iushnt

Posts: 3105; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

All models are great products

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