Ex-NeXT Developer: Steve Jobs “Would Have Died Before Giving In To The NSA”

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Andrew Stone at AltWWDC.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Andrew Stone, an indie NeXT developer who worked with Steve Jobs for almost a quarter century, believes that Jobs would’ve never let Apple be a part of the United States National Security surveillance program PRISM.

“Steve Jobs would’ve rather died than give into that, even though he had a lot of friends at the NSA,” he told Cult of Mac, shaking his head. “Microsoft caved in first, then everyone else. Steve would’ve just never done it.”

And, in fact, Apple was the last of the tech giants to join (succumb?) to PRISM in October 2012, a year after the death of its co-founder. Apple has publicly denied its involvement in the e-spying operation, though a leaked NSA slide says differently.

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Stone’s comment came after a very groovy ode to psychedelic substance DMT and counter (coder) culture that included a moment of group hyperventilation to simulate the beginning of a drug trip to a standing-room only crowd at AltWWDC.

The talk recounts the colorful tale of how a high school dropout tuned in to coding, turned on to DMT and later discovered that all the hippies had gone online – to bulletin boards, which is how he heard about NeXT computers in March 1989. (You can read the full talk on Stone’s site, though you really have to see him in all his wiry, Summer-of-Love quirkiness for the full effect.)

Along the far out trip down memory lane (Raves! The Grateful Dead! Cypherpunks!) Stone touched on how Jobs made those connections at the NSA. It began when the NeXT proved too pricey for the academic market, which is where Jobs thought it would find a natural home. (The first NeXT computers retailed for $9,999 in 1990, that’s nearly $18,000 today.)

“But something dark from America’s psyche was revealed, we truly hate success. We’re happy for our heroes for awhile, but we are not truly happy until they fall,” he said. “The publishing houses did not buy in and sales faltered. And this is where Steve began courting the Fortune 500 and the dark agencies – NSA and CIA – because these people could afford his expensive machines.

Stone had a few words about keeping it real in the era of cyber surveillance, based on his own experience of being dogged by the DEA, who had mistaken him for a drug dealer.

“Back then, I had what we called a landline,” he laughed. “And every time I picked it up, there was that telltale click. Notice I am giving you advice here. If you know you are being watched, you’ll self-censor, right?”

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  • Radtech51

    Steve Jobs would have obeyed the law.

  • joewaylo

    “Stone had a few words about keeping it real in the era of cyber surveillance, based on his own experience of being dogged by the DEA, who had mistaken him for a drug dealer.”

    Well gee. Who gave them that idea? The psychedelic teddy bear?

  • Gadget

    Steve Jobs would have obeyed the law.

    Steve Jobs would have obeyed the constitution

  • jeffythequick

    I know I said it yesterday, but this is the same company that wants you consolidate all of your usernames into one account, and then store your passwords on their servers, which, in 2012, PRISM may (who knows?) have access to.

    I’m sure it’s buried in the ToS that you give up your 4th Amendment rights, so there’s no harm done, right?

  • Gregory Wright

    What a stupid headline. Jobs would comply with the court order just as Apple is doing today.

    Actually author, you are right about one thing, Jobs did die.

  • aardman

    I guy named Stone waxing poetic about tripping on psychedlic drugs. How could you miss that?

  • daov2a

    When Steve Jobs was running Next, he likely would have said no. When he was running Apple, he would have said yes and complied with whatever law was asking him to do it.

  • nikster

    When Steve Jobs was running Next, he likely would have said no. When he was running Apple, he would have said yes and complied with whatever law was asking him to do it.

    Please there’s lots of stuff you could do instead of simply handing over everything. You can fight this stuff in court, you can make it public even though they don’t “allow you” to. What are they going to do if Steve Jobs ignores a court order to keep an NSA request secret? Throw him in Jail? I don’t think so….

  • technochick

    Or perhaps he would have. This guy really can’t back up what he’s saying and should have kept his mouth shut.

  • technochick

    Please there’s lots of stuff you could do instead of simply handing over everything. You can fight this stuff in court, you can make it public even though they don’t “allow you” to. What are they going to do if Steve Jobs ignores a court order to keep an NSA request secret? Throw him in Jail? I don’t think so….

    Steve Jobs was not above the law. If he violated a court order, he would be jailed or heavily fined. Just like everyone else

  • technochick

    .

    I’m sure it’s buried in the ToS that you give up your 4th Amendment rights, so there’s no harm done, right?

    If they have a valid court order then it’s not unreasonable so there’s no violation

  • technochick

    I love that folks are using that one slide out of context to claim the government is spying on everyone. Even that slide says MIGHT INCLUDE.

  • OUTFOXEM

    “Steve Jobs would have died before giving in to the NSA.”

    Um… correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what happened?

  • FiveOhFour

    Please there’s lots of stuff you could do instead of simply handing over everything. You can fight this stuff in court, you can make it public even though they don’t “allow you” to. What are they going to do if Steve Jobs ignores a court order to keep an NSA request secret? Throw him in Jail? I don’t think so….

    Steve Jobs was not above the law. If he violated a court order, he would be jailed or heavily fined. Just like everyone else

    Or perhaps he would have. This guy really can’t back up what he’s saying and should have kept his mouth shut.

    Not so good with our own advice are we, your first comment starting with “perhaps” clearly shows you can’t back up what you are saying either but you say he should have kept his mouth shut, a pretty childish comment in my personal opinion but regardless you had no issue speaking on your opinion that he may or may not of, ys obviously those are the two options here. It is not that hard to understand that most of what people are referring to as “giving in” is the companies making life easier for the NSA as opposed to just taking a path like twitter has chosen and simply following court orders to the letter of the law but not bending over backwards to make it as easy as possible which is not an obligation he would have and wouldn’t put him above the law or have him violating court orders.
    Furthermore how is your analysis of the situation worth voicing but someone who worked with Jobs for nearly 25 years needs to keep their mouth shut, no one even suggests you should take this as fact that Jobs put his signature next to somewhere, its merely exactly what it claims to be, someone who knew and worked with him for a very long time giving their opinion on how they feel the deceased would have handled a situation and to think that this is somehow insulting for you to have to read to the point this guy doesn’t deserve to speak on the topic is slightly bewildering to me personally, I do respect your right to that opinion however and you will not find me saying you should keep your mouth shut….unless you hear a click on your landline, then by all means shut it.

About the author

Nicole MartinelliNicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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