Wozniak comes to defense of Apple engineers

It's safe to say that Steve Wozniak feels a kinship with Apple engineers. Last week he spoke on behalf of two that have run afoul of Apple's security rules.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

Apparently, Steve Wozniak has some reservations about Apple's security methods.

Steve Wozniak pokes a little fun at Gray Powell, but wants Apple to treat employees with more "niceness." Janet Wozniak

The Apple co-founder has claimed that an Apple employee was fired after showing Wozniak an iPad hours before the device was rolled out to the public earlier this month, according to Gizmodo.

"I can tell you that the test engineer who showed me an iPad after midnight, for (two) minutes, during the iPad launch was indeed fired," Wozniak wrote to the blog.

Wozniak said he did not learn that the "test engineer" was fired until later and he speculated in his e-mail that he thinks the engineer wasn't supposed to show anyone an iPad 3G version or that he showed the device before he was allowed. "And I'm an Apple employee who he was showing it to," Wozniak wrote.

"In my opinion, Apple was not hurt by my being shown this iPad," Wozniak wrote. "I did describe this to Steve Jobs the night of the iPad introduction and he said 'so it's no big deal.'"

The employee still got fired, Wozniak said. He took note that the Apple engineer who showed him the iPad is unemployed but Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who lost what is believed to be a prototype of the iPhone 4G, still has his job. Powell inadvertently touched off a media blitz by losing the experimental handset in a San Francisco Bay Area bar last month. The person who found the phone sold the device to Gizmodo for $5,000. On Friday, CNET reported that police are looking into the matter.

"What am I missing here? " Wozniak wrote. "Product secrecy is good for Apple and should be strictly enforced, but maybe 10 percent of niceness and 90 percent of strictness is OK too."

It's safe to say that Wozniak feels a kinship with Apple's engineers. Gizmodo published its e-mail correspondence with Wozniak after CNET published photos of Wozniak dressed in a T-shirt that read: "I went drinking with Gray Powell and all I got was a lousy iPhone prototype."

In an e-mail to CNET, the 59-year-old Wozniak said of Powell: "It seems clear that (Powell) kept the iPhone prototype secret enough to satisfy Apple. It's a bad accident that could happen to any of us."

Wozniak's attempts to come to the aid of Apple engineers is likely to only boost his already prodigious popularity in Silicon Valley and with hardcore techies. The creator of the Apple I and Apple II computers, Wozniak is considered one of the founding fathers of personal computing.