Apple to Some Guy: We Want Our MacBook Pro Prototype

| News

It’s no secret that Apple likes to keep its prototype devices to itself, and now the company is working on getting a 2007 MacBook Pro prototype back that included a unique feature: 3G wireless data support. The laptop includes a SIM card slot, along with an external antenna that attaches magnetically.

MacBook Pro PrototypeMacbook Pro prototype from Ebay listing

The prototype laptop, according to CNET, is currently in the hands of Carl Frega in North Carolina. Mr. Frega said he bought the laptop off of Craigslist for parts, but kept the computer together because he was able to get it working again.

Exactly where the laptop came from before it landed in Mr. Frega’s hands is something of a mystery.

After installing a new hard drive and Snow Leopard, he sold the laptop on Craigslist. The new buyer took the MacBook Pro to an Apple Genius Bar for maintenance, but was denied service because they thought the machine was cobbled together with third-party parts. The owner ended up suing Mr. Frega claiming he was sold a counterfeit computer.

The court ordered Mr. Frega to refund the money his buyer paid, and he took back the computer. In August, he listed the computer on Ebay, where Apple finally took notice and had the auction shut down.

Now Apple is arranging to pick up the laptop from Mr. Frega since they’d rather not have the prototype in the wild.

Apple never released a MacBook Pro with 3G wireless support, although that doesn’t mean the company wouldn’t considering including the feature in future models. From Mr. Frega’s perspective, however, they aren’t easy to sell.

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Comments

prl53

Here we go again. This computer was either stolen from Apple’s design facility by an Apple employee or wasn’t returned to Apple under a developer agreement meant for product testing. I can’t see Apple releasing it to the public on purpose. As for the initial owner (actually all the owners), I can’t believe they didn’t know what they had in their hands. Anyone who has been following the Apple product line for more than five minutes, including the Apple “Geniuses,” would have known this wasn’t an ordinary Mac. You can’t cobble together a SIM slot or a special lid with room for the antenna and keep it looking like it hadn’t been cut and soldered/welded. I’m also surprised the court didn’t ask about it. Way too many people touched this computer without identifying it as a prototype. Apple needs to have better control over their prototype equipment.

Lee Dronick

Exactly where the laptop came from before it landed in Mr. Frega?s hands is something of a mystery.

Well possibly

factories in Guangdong province are exporting enough counterfeits to single-handedly supply the world with fake Apple products

Question for the hardware knowledgable. Is that antenna the correct length for 3G sending and receiving?

Something smell about this story, maybe it is rotting red herring. However, it could be legit, but do you really think that geeks would “gloss over” a real Apple prototype?

Frega went to the forums of tech site Anandtech to show others the device and chronicle his attempts to get it working again. In the end, the device was glossed over.

“Few people were really interested, and the thread turned into a discussion about tethering rates and wireless carriers,” Frega said. “(It’s) part of why I figured the machine wasn’t anything particularly special (except to a tech geek like me) and not worth the trouble of selling as a collector’s piece.”

anovelli

I believe the first coverage of this a month or so ago said the original owner was a former apple software engineer who was given the device after the project he was working on was completed. At some point he purportedly put the device on Craigslist as a sort of novelty and for parts as it was no longer operational. I believe this Mr. Frega spent a great deal of time getting the machine operable as a semi-normal MBP, though as there were some missing components of the cellular connection system, that was never operational.

I think whatever point of the chain is responsibie for a possible breach of NDAs or whatever is likely the original seller, not Frega, and he should be compensated. I seriously doubt Apple would ever let anything like this off campus, let alone give it away to a contract engineer.

Lee Dronick

I seriously doubt Apple would ever let anything like this off campus, let alone give it away to a contract engineer.

Well there was the iPhone prototype incident.

a former apple software engineer who was given the device after the project he was working on was completed

I don’t think that they would have gifted it to him, he would have had to given it back.

gopher

Scratch that…I see in the article it says 2007 prototype.

Lee Dronick

Mr Frega wasn’t sued in a real court, it was on the Judge Roy Bean Show or one of the other TV courtroom shows. Was the prototype brought onto the show or just photos of it?

Jamie

Not particularly interested in arguing the virtues of this comment, but seriously: how many other tech companies can you think of that have their prototypes held hostage? wink

Though I hope it isn’t true that Apple have peaked and must ultimately decline, I’m really glad I got to see them on top like this (I’m an old school Mac user from the dark days. Fight Back for the Mac!). wink

Hagen

Apple needs to have better control over their prototype equipment.

After the fun with the iPhone 4 prototype, I imagine Apple now has much more stringent measures!

Terrin

No he was sued in real court. These shows look for interesting real small claims cases, and ask the parties if they want to resolve the matter on the shows often times enticing them by offering compensation. Frega declined so the matter was decided by a real judge.

Mr Frega wasn?t sued in a real court, it was on the Judge Roy Bean Show or one of the other TV courtroom shows. Was the prototype brought onto the show or just photos of it?

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