Tony Fadell nearly lost an original iPhone prototype at the airport

By

Fadell
Nest CEO Tony Fadell had a very, very bad day.
Photo: Nest

Remember that massive news news story from 2010, when an Apple engineer accidentally left an iPhone 4 prototype in a bar in Redwood City, only for it to wind up in the hands of Gizmodo?

Well, a much, much bigger story could have happened a few years earlier — when then-Senior Vice President of Apple’s iPod Division Tony Fadell came close to losing an original iPhone prototype at an airport, prior to it being publicly unveiled.

Now that’s got to be a bad day at the office!

“I was sweating bullets,” Fadell told the BBC in an interview, commenting that he was exiting a plane he was flying on, when he suddenly became aware the top secret iPhone model was missing.

“I was walking through every scenario thinking about what could happen,” he continued. Given that Steve Jobs had a reputation for firing people for leaking any information about Apple products, it’s safe to say none of these would have ended well.

The story took a comic turn, when Fadell had to call in a search party to help him find the lost handset — but couldn’t inform them what they were looking for, on account of the project’s total secrecy.

Fortunately, the mystery was eventually solved. “It fell out of my pocket and it was lodged in between the seats,” Fadell said.

The BBC’s entire article itself is well worth reading, with a few fun anecdotes about the creation of Apple’s iconic iPhone, which turns ten years old this week. For more information about the iPhone’s history, you can check out our comprehensive “Today in Apple history” post, tracing its history from the project’s earliest days through 2017.