Alternate Reality

The Apple-Gizmodo Affair: The Complete Timeline

Now that the ‘GizmodoGate’ documents have been unsealed, we finally know what really happened to that ‘lost’ iPhone 4G prototype. Here’s eSarcasm’s exclusive take.

By (@tynanwrites)

May 17, 2010

The story you're about to read is not (entirely) true. It is, however, more accurate than most things on network television.

Thanks to a judge’s decision to unseal the documents in the Apple-Gizmodo iPhone 4G affair, aka GizmodoGate, we now have a much clearer understand of how Gray Powell lost that iPhone 4G prototype and why it ended up on the Web pages of Gizmodo.

Here’s our exclusive timeline to the key events (all times noted are Pacific):

March 25, 7:25 pm: Apple engineer Gray Powell enters The Gourmet Haus Staudt, a beer garden in Redwood City, California, with his uncle. In his pants pocket: a prototype of Apple’s upcoming fourth-generation iPhone.

March 25, 7:37 pm: Powell and his uncle decide to play quarters, a popular drinking game. Only instead of using actual quarters they decide to see who can bounce Powell’s iPhone 4G into a pitcher of Lowenbrau.

March 25, 10:49 pm: Powell leaves bar in drunken stupor without his iPhone or his pants.

March 25, 11:08 pm: Haus Staudt patron Brian J. Hogan finds beer-soaked iPhone, waits 20 minutes for Powell to return and also to see if hofbrau bartender will give him her number. He leaves without the number but with the iPhone and Powell’s pants.

March 26, 10:22 am: Hogan attempts to return the phone to Apple by calling its tech support number. When they answer, he asks if Steve Jobs’ brother “Blow” is there, then hangs up.

March 27 to April 10: Through his roommate, Thomas Warner, Hogan begins shopping the iPhone 4G to various publications, among them Wired, Engadget, Gawker Media (Gizmodo), and, strangely, Womens Wear Daily.

April 11, 1:17 pm: Gizmodo says yes. Hogan asks for $10,000 in small unmarked bills in exchange for giving the blog the right to molest the unit before returning it to Apple. Gizmodo owner Nick Denton counters with $5,000 and a handjob from editor Brian Lam. Hogan agrees.

April 12, 10:32 am: Gizmodo blogger Jason Chen attempts to disassemble the prototype using a butter knife and a blow torch — stripping screws, slicing cables and rendering the device inoperable.

April 12, 12:02 pm: Chen attempts to repair prototype with Gorilla Glue and spare parts from an old GI Joe Walkie Talkie. This attempt fails.

April 12, 1:36 pm: Chen hides broken iPhone 4G under his desk for three days.

April 16, 4:45 pm: Nick Denton stops by Chen’s cube to see how the story about the iPhone 4G that just cost him Five Large is is coming along. Chen reports the iPhone 4G is no longer operational and says it must have been remotely “bricked” by Apple.

April 17, 7:48 pm: Engadget publishes blurry photos of 4G sent to them by Hogan’s roommate, simultaneously proving itself both cheaper and sleazier than Gizmodo.

April 19, 10:00 am: Gizmodo publishes Jason Chen’s account of the iPhone 4G, leaving out the bits about the butter knife and the blowtorch. Pandemonium ensues.

April 19, 10:02 am: Steve Jobs calls Gizmodo’s Brian Lam and threatens to send Apple’s attorneys so far up his anus he will Shit Different ™ for the rest of his life. He demands the return of the unit.

April 19, 11:32 am: Lam responds with a cheery email:


First, this email convo is completely OTR (off the record), unless of course I decide to publish later. I understand the position you’re in, and I don’t want to hurt your sales. But we’d violate our own grandmothers for five million page views.

Remember, we’re just a little startup, like Apple once was. Unlike Mossberg and Pogue, we don’t get our knobs polished by Apple PR. In fact, Apple PR has been rather cold to us. Last Christmas, for example. No presents. Not even a card. Was that nice?

And you and I are, like, completely alike, only you’re worth $6 billion and I make $12.50 an hour. So you understand how it is. We’d be happy to return your phone after you agree to blow me and/or write a letter testifying that we are Internet Gods for pwning you and your friggin’ phone. Luzer!

Don’t taze me bro, don’t taze me.

— B.L.

April 19, 4:33 pm: eSarcasm reveals it has discovered another prerelease iPhone 4G tucked into a stripper’s G string. Other 4G handsets turn up in taxi cabs, Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber’s sock drawer, and Lady Gaga’s hair.

April 20, 10:07 am: eSarcasm receives letter from Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell demanding return of missing iPhone and threatening us with an “ass-whuppin” if we don’t comply.

April 21, 7:38 pm: Hogan’s other roommate, Katherine Martinson, rats him out to the police. She later says she did so because she was afraid of being implicated along with Hogan and also because she’s tired of him “accidentally” walking in on her while she’s undressing.

April 21, 10:37 pm: A Microsoft Kin prototype is left behind in a Redmond, Washington, bar by a person calling himself “Gill Bates.” The bar owner later tries selling Kin handset to various publications but gets no takers.

April 26, 6:42 pm: A high-tech SWAT team breaks into blogger Jason Chen’s home, seizing all of his personal computing devices as well as a substantial collection of Hentai Donkey porn.

April 27 to May 7: Lam, Chen, Denton, Hogan, Warner, Martinson, eSarcasm’s JR Raphael and stripper Candy LaRue all lawyer up (though in JR’s case, Candy LaRue is his attorney).

May 14, 11:23 am: At the request of the media, the court unseals documents relating to this case. Public soon learns that everyone involved in this affair is a complete and utter dick.

May 17, 8:48 am: Steve Jobs personally contacts eSarcasm and demands we remove this blog post, because "he’s Steve Fucking Jobs and he can do whatever the fuck he wants." eSarcasm respectfully declines, then quietly moves without leaving a forwarding address.

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