Wait, so Apple actually took inspiration from someone who broke the law?
Apple, the world’s most valuable company has made a series of terrific products over the past couple of years, but there are some things that you do not know about the tech giant; like how John Draper, a computer programmer and known hacker was working for Apple’s Steve Wozniak in the early days of the company.
Draper was known for his morally dubious activities right from the start, and when he got located to Silicon Valley, that is when he really started to shine. Both Wozniak and Jobs were able to locate Draper through a friend of Wozniak. So what is Draper known for; phreaking. For those who are unaware of this term, phreaking is a term used to hack, but instead of hacking a computer system, it involves hacking a phone line in order to make long distance and international calls absolutely free.
Using his knowledge, Draper developed a blue box, which is an electronic device whose primary purpose was to make free calls. Before Apple existed, Wozniak and Jobs had formed a business that made and sold blue boxes. Both wunderkinds claimed that this is the product that was the foundation of Apple’s success. According to Steve Jobs, he states the following:
“I don’t think there would ever have been an Apple Computer had there not been blue-boxing.”
When Apple was actually founded, third party companies could actually create devices that could connect to public phone lines. Wozniak wanted in on this, and reached out to John Draper in order to help him out with the venture. Working for Apple as an independent contractor, Draper made a telephone interface board for the Apple II computer, and guess what, the computer was able to identify phone signals and lines, which also included ones that made free calls.
The computer was never introduced to the market, but the same technology would later be used in tone-activated calling menus, voice mail and other similar tech. In short, you could definitely say that one-half of the company was inspired by a hacker in order to develop a product that would be termed unethical by the moral police.
Was it something that shouldn’t have been done? Probably, but companies have ended up doing far worse things, so we will let this slide for now.