A former software engineer who claimed to write 6% of the OS X Kernel, Terry Lambert shares some details regarding secrecy surrounding the original iPhone project, codenamed Project Purple. Lambert says he was brought into the project to help debug the kernel.

Before even starting the project, Lambert was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that allowed him to sign another non-disclosure agreement that had the actual project codename on it.

When you finally got read in, you signed an NDA that let you see the NDA that had the code name on it. You couldn’t see the code name until you agreed not to discuss the code name.

Another thing that Apple does is they give different code names to different groups; 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.

He says that he never got to see the form-factor of the iPhone while working on it.

I only got to see the machine doing the remote debugging, not the target — but it was obviously an ARM based system […] You didn’t really get to see the form factor, because when you are doing the initial work, it’s all prototypes on plexiglass.

And even those who got access to the secret labs didn’t know very much about the project.

I got taken into areas where there were black cloths everywhere. If you ever work at Apple, black cloths are how they cover secret projects; you pretend not to see them […] if you want a clever halloween costume for Apple, buy a black sheet, cut eye holes, and go as a “secret project”.

Lambert worked for Apple from 2003 to 2010.

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