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Tony Fadell 2006

Official Apple photo from 2006

Anthony Michael Fadell (born March 22, 1969) is an American engineer and entrepreneur who was the former Senior Vice President of the iPod Division at Apple Inc., where he was considered the "father of the iPod".[1]

Early life and education[]

Fadell was born to a Lebanese father and a Polish Russian mother. His father was a sales executive at Levi Strauss & Co.[2] Fadell graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. In 1991, he received a BS in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. While still at the University of Michigan, he was CEO of Constructive Instruments, which marketed MediaText, multimedia composition software for children.[3]


After college, Fadell joined Apple spinoff General Magic in 1992, working with Sony, Philips, Matsushita, Toshiba and other consumer electronics firms in the "General Magic Alliance" to develop a line of personal handheld communicators. Over the course of three years, he rose from a diagnostics engineer to a systems architect. Fadell was responsible for the development of a number of technologies and devices, including the Sony Magic Link and Motorola Envoy, both of which were part of the Magic Cap platform.[4]

Philips Electronics[]

In 1995, Fadell was hired by Philips Electronics where he co-founded their Mobile Computing Group and served as the Chief Technology Officer, and Director of Engineering. He developed a number of Windows CE-based hand-held services, notably the Philips Velo and Nino PDAs.[4] Fadell went on to become a Vice President of Philips Strategy and Ventures where he was in charge of developing Philips' digital audio strategy consisting of technology direction for silicon and software, as well as its investment portfolio and potential business models.[5][6]


In July 1999, Fadell started his own company called Fuse to develop the "Dell of the Consumer Electronics". One of the devices he had in mind was a small hard disk-based music player and an online-store-for-music. Fuse failed, however, to find a second round of funding, and Fadell started exploring developing the product at other companies. He first approached RealNetworks in 2000 but left after only six weeks.


Apple industrial design lab iPod nano

Fadell (left) with the executive team in the industrial design lab where the iPod nano was developed.

After first meeting Apple Computer in January 2001, Fadell became a contractor by February, developing Apple's audio product strategy and designing what would become the iPod under the code name "P68 Dulcimer".[6][7] His idea for a small hard disk-based music player and an online-store-for-music had caught Steve Jobs's attention. During that time, he developed the concept and initial design of the iPod. He was then hired by Apple to assemble and run its iPod & Special Projects group in April 2001. He was tasked with overseeing the design and production of the iPod and iSight devices.[6][8] He was promoted to vice president of iPod engineering in 2004 and oversaw iPod hardware, software, and accessories development. On October 14, 2005, Apple announced that Fadell would replace the retiring Jon Rubinstein as Senior Vice President of the iPod Division on March 31, 2006.[9] Fadell began working in secret with a team to develop the iPhone. He once lost a prototype on a plane and searched for 2 hours until he found it lodged between seats. Jobs had warned the team that anyone who divulged the unannounced project would be fired.[10]

From March 2006 to November 2008, he oversaw iPhone hardware, firmware, and accessories development for the first three generations of the product line. On November 3, 2008, The Wall Street Journal broke the story of Fadell's departure from Apple.[11]

Nest Labs[]

While building an energy-efficient home near Lake Tahoe in California, Fadell searched for a thermostat and found available devices to be expensive with lack of features and energy efficiency gains.[11] After having left Apple, he spent time around the world observing others having similar energy saving dilemmas. Fadell developed the business plan to redesign the traditional thermostat while living in Paris.[12] In May 2010, Fadell co-founded Nest Labs in Palo Alto, California with Matt Rogers, a former Apple colleague.[13] The company designed and manufactured the Nest Learning Thermostat, a sensor-driven and programmable Wi-Fi-enabled device. Nest was acquired by Google in January 2014 for $3.2 billion.[14] Fadell announced his resignation from the company on June 3, 2016.[15]

Future Shape[]

Fadell is presently the Principal at Future Shape, a global investment and advisory firm coaching engineers and scientists working on foundational deep technology. The firm has invested in over 200 startups.[16]


  1. Thursday, Daniel Eran Dilger. iPod-Father Tony Fadell speaks at Computer History Museum's iPhone 360 (en).
  2. Tony Fadell - Academy of Achievement
  3. Alumni Profile – Michigan Engineer. University of Michigan. Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pamela Kruger (September 1998). Stop the Fight. Fast Company.
  5. Profile. Strategic News Service. Archived from the original on March 13, 2006.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 John Markoff. "Oh, Yeah, He Also Sells Computers", New York Times, April 25, 2004. 
  7. I asked Tony Fadell about the iPod timeline for my fast project page. by Patrick Collison, Twitter. 2020-01-12.
  8. Alumni Profile. Michigan Engineer. University of Michigan. Archived from the original on October 11, 2004.
  9. Apple Computer, Inc. (October 14, 2005). Tim Cook Named COO of Apple. Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved on August 8, 2010.
  10. That Time Steve Ballmer Laughed at the iPhone by Don Reisinger, Fortune. 2017-01-10.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Key Apple Executive to Depart", The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2008. 
  12. Olson, Parmy. Why iPod Creator Tony Fadell Is Bringing His Old Co-Workers To France (en).
  13. NY Times, Ex-Apple Leaders Push the Humble Thermostat Into the Digital Age. The New York Times (October 25, 2011). Retrieved on March 14, 2013.
  14. Winkler, Rolfe. "Google to Buy Nest Labs for $3.2 Billion", Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2014. 
  15. Metz, Rachel. Nest’s CEO is out of the picture, but that won’t solve the company’s real problem.
  16. Ex-Apple executive joins startup aimed at banishing smartphone cables (November 1, 2019).

External links[]


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