In today’s weird news, some people have apparently found coins hidden inside their MacBook, specifically optical drives in older MacBook models. Is this an engineering tradition of good luck? Or perhaps an error in manufacturing? We don’t yet have any definitive answers, but it’s an interesting phenomenon to examine.
Recently, Imgur user Greatease said (via Redmond Pie) that he found an American penny underneath the cover of his SuperDrive. The coin was firmly lodged under a plastic cover.
In another incident back in 2010, a person took apart his MacBook Pro and found a quarter inside the optical drive. Other people, like Reddit user eddie360 have also found pennies inside their MacBooks.
Occam’s Razor states that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. In this situation, the most likely explanation is that it’s some kind of prank. We’ll examine that further deeper down. Another possible explanation is that it’s some kind of accidental lodging, but we’ll look at that, too.
In a Cult of Mac article, David Pierini discusses more possible explanations. User PracticalBatman gives a reason how the coin could get underneath a plastic part:
“When the drive grabs a disk, that hub depressed downward,” he wrote. “IF a coin falls inside the optical drive slot while the hub is depressed (disk installed), it can slide through the round hole that the hub retracts into when there is no disk installed.”
Another person—Jonas—says that he used to be a worker at an Apple Genius Bar, and says that he and his fellow employees routinely found items inside MacBooks:
“90 (percent) of the time, it was the result of kids shoving things in the Optical Drive. We’d find coins, paperclips, SD cards, you name it. If it was slim enough to fit the slot, we’d find it in there.”
As is often the case on the internet, people have formed tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theories, even poking fun at Apple:
“We, here at Apple like to call the feature Thunder Coin. Out [sic] elite engineers worked with dedication for years, finally overturning the rule of physics itself with this simple, yet elegant solution: Thunder Coin allows for great dissipation of heat within the motherboard, brings better WiFi reception by isolating against external radio interference, stabilizes the overall flow of electrons when subjected to vibrations and increases your Hipster Personal Brand awareness and recognition. Built from the highest quality mind and materials, our locally minted MacBook Pro is a marvel of engineering, worthy of your status and lifestyle.”
Some quick thoughts:
- A prank or accident-of-manufacturing from Asian suppliers isn’t likely to involve U.S. coins.
- Even if it was cheaper to use a U.S. penny to solve a problem because it costs roughly a penny, Apple would still engineer some kind of beautiful solution of its own. That’s who Apple is.
- Also, all pennies are not created equal. There are variances in weight at the manufacturing level, and wear and tear add further variance. In addition, while many of these images are pennies, some are quarters. Variance is the enemy of precision engineering. This phenomenon did not originate within Apple.
The most simple explanation is that this is a collective prank.
[Update: Kyle Wiens from iFixIt thinks it’s a case of users putting coins in through the slot and then finding them later. He told us, “I’m pretty sure this is kids / owners putting coins in optical drives, and then the drive mechanism sucking the coin in until it’s stuck. They just happen to be the right size to stick around. You can always disassemble the drive to remove the coin.”]
Have you ever found a coin or other small object inside of your MacBook? Let us know in the comments.