Ahmed Mohamed's in good company... Apple's Steve Wozniak was arrested for making a home-made 'bomb' clock

His principal ‘bravely ran onto the football field clutching it to his chest, and pulled the wires off’

Heather Saul
Thursday 17 September 2015 11:27
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Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak

A story about the Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spending the night in prison after building a fake bomb in high school has re-emerged after a teenager was arrested for bringing a homemade clock into school.

Wozniak was placed in cuffs and marched off to a juvenile detention centre after the electronic metronome device he built in twelfth grade was discovered by his school principal.

In an extract of Walter Isaacson’s biography first shared by Business Insider in 2011, Wozniak had realised the ticking sound sounded like a bomb and decided to strap big batteries to it to make it look like one as well. He then hid it in a locker as a prank, where it was discovered later that day.

“In twelfth grade [Wozniak] built an electronic metronome—one of those tick-tick-tick devices that keep time in music class—and realised it sounded like a bomb. So he took the labels off some big batteries, taped them together, and put it in a school locker; he rigged it to start ticking faster when the locker opened.”

The gifted mathematician was apparently called to the principal’s office for what he believed was because he had passed another maths test with full marks. Instead, police were waiting for him.

“The principal had been summoned when the device was found, bravely ran onto the football field clutching it to his chest, and pulled the wires off. Woz tried and failed to suppress his laughter. He actually got sent to the juvenile detention centre, where he spent the night."

Wozniak's prank highlights the treatment of engineering enthusiast Ahmed Mohamed, who found himself in a much more serious situation when he innocently brought in a clock he had created at home into his Texas school to show his engineering teacher.

The teenager was led away in cuffs

The 14-year-old was arrested, taken away in handcuffs - allegedly without his mother or father being present - and suspended from school when another teacher spotted it.

“I have lost my innocence. I can never look at the world in the same way,” he told The Independent. “I like science, but I look like a threat because of my brown skin.”

Ahmed's father said his son was "very upset and shocked" by his arrest. “He wants to be like Einstein," he said. "He has so many ideas. He does not have an evil bone in him.

“I think it is because of Islamophobia and the [impact] of 9/11."

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