Apple's curtain of secrecy surrounding new products is almost legendary, but a former Apple employee passed along a story to Business Insider's Seth Fiegerman about how the secret of the iPhone was almost revealed to the world -- by Steve Jobs.
The setting for the story was at the house of Steve Jobs in early 2007, described by the employee as "a no man's land for WiFi, with thick walls." The iPhone team was trying to debug issues with Wi-Fi on an early build of the device, and finally went to Jobs' house to figure out what was happening.
As the team began to debug the issue, "this crazy ass medieval buzzer starts going off and startles us, and even startles Steve. He quickly figured out it was coming from the pedestrian gate on the other side of his house."
The story continues -- "Up walks the happiest FedEx guy you have ever seen, coming up to the door. It's not Steve's normal guy, which is why he was surprised. So Steve goes out to meet him because he has to sign for this package, but he's got the iPhone in one of his hands. Steve just walks out casually, drops the phone behind his back, signs the package, and the FedEx dude marches off."
The Apple employee explains that "when we carried the phones to his house, we carried them in these Pelican lock boxes. These phones were never to leave Apple's campus, and Steve just casually throws it behind his back. That was the first time I saw someone casually come close to seeing the iPhone before it was announced, and he didn't even know it. If the FedEx guy had just tilted his head, he would have seen it."
It's not quite as good a story as leaving an iPhone prototype in a bar, but almost.