Lost and found iPhone prototype is now back with Apple

(NBC) - The technology world is buzzing and a 27 year-old software engineer is living through a bit of a nightmare right now.

It's all because he left a next generation iPhone at a bar, months before it was scheduled to be unveiled by Apple.

The person who found the phone quickly realized what he had and sold it to the tech blog Gizmodo for $5,000. Gizmodo then splashed the phone and it's features all over their web site.

Due to Apple's legendary secrecy, much of the focus has been on the unlucky man who lost the phone.

"I felt so badly for that young man," says Boyden Global Executive Search director Neil Sims.

"We've all done stuff like that, we've all had an absent-minded moment and his fifteen minutes of fame is going to be painful," explained Sims.

Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs are legendary for their secrecy.  Rumors abound about locked rooms, confidentiality agreements and yet-to-be released products, literally chained to desks.

There continues to be some speculation about the truth of the whole story.  Some theorize a publicity stunt by Apple, Gizmodo or someone else.

Gizmodo never got the phone to work, so they couldn't report on the new software, just the new hardware which includes a new front facing camera and a ceramic backing that promises better reception.

A lawyer for Apple sent them a letter asking for their property back and Gizmodo says they have complied.

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