Apple is known for its secrecy when it comes to software and products. For the most part, they do a
good decent job at keeping unreleased information out of the spotlight. Today, a former Apple employee shares a unique story on how they kept Safari a secret by disguising is as Mozilla.
Former Apple employee Don Melton has a behind the scenes look at the Safari development team. Melton was team leader on Safari for OS X and iOS and explains how Apple kept the entire thing a secret until launch.
Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist then. Nobody at Apple was stupid enough to blog about work, so what was I worried about?
Server logs. They scared the hell out of me.
When a Web browser fetches a page from a Web server, the browser identifies itself to that server with a user agent string — basically its name, version, platform, etc. The browser also gives the server an IP address so the server knows where to return the page. This exchange not only makes the Web work, it also allows the server to tell who is using what browser and where they’re using it.
You can see where this is going, right? But wait, there’s more…
Back around 1990, some forward-thinking IT person secured for Apple an entire Class A network of IP addresses. That’s right, Apple has 16,777,216 static IP addresses. And because all of these addresses belong together — in what’s now called a “/8 block” — every one of them starts with the same number. In Apple’s case, the number is 17.
IP address 126.96.36.199? That’s Apple. 188.8.131.52? Yes, Apple. 184.108.40.206? Also, Apple. 220.127.116.11? Apple, dammit!
I was so screwed.
Check out Melton’s blog for the rest of the details. The story is pretty interesting if you’re into this kind of stuff.