Former Apple programmer Ron Avitzur’s project was cancelled in August 1993, but he managed to continue to sneak into the Apple’s offices until he had finished the graphing calculator program that he had been working on.
Avitzur, who was 27 at the time, was disappointed when Apple shelved his project. He was offered a different job within the company, but it didn’t interest him. He wanted to make the graphic calculator work on the new PowerPC computer than Apple planned to ship in early 1994 and he was determined not to let anything get in his way.
So, when he realised that if he didn’t submit his final invoice, his contract would remain on Apple’s systems and therefore keep his ID badge active, that was exactly what he would do in order to finish his project.
“On the first day Avitzur came to work without a job, everything was pretty much the same,” reports World’s Strangest. “He drove his 1987 Toyota Corolla from the room he rented on the edge of a nature reserve in Palo Alto and parked in the lot outside Infinite Loop, Apple’s fancy new headquarters. He swiped in, went into his old office and resumed working on the calculator.”
It didn’t take long for Avitzur to gain a helping hand. Greg Robbins began reporting to Avitzur when his contract was almost up and despite not getting paid the pair enjoyed the challenge.
But, they became careless and got caught, causing a manager to revoke their ID badges to prevent them from being able to return to the offices.
“For the next two months, Avitzur had to find new ways of getting into the building,” says the report. “He kept his cancelled badge around his neck and timed his arrival for when he knew there’d be crowds going through the front door.”
His badge would fool security, but he had to be sure to stay away from sensors that would set off alarms if he got too close.
He would sometimes sneak in through a side entrance opened by friendly programmers, who also ensured that there were always two computers available for Avitzur and Robbins to use.
When Avitzur and Robbins were ready to demonstrate the calculator, just three month later, engineers informed their managers of the project, who requested to see it in action. “Avitzur was prepared for the worst – ready to be dismissed as a loose cannon who had spent the last three months trespassing – but the demo went perfectly,” says World’s Strangest.
The PowerPC computer came out the following year, complete with Avitzur and Robbins’ calculator program, which has now been installed on more than 20 million machines.
“It’s amazing we got away with it,” Avitzur told World’s Strangest. “Even more amazing that we ended up producing something of value.”