Paris, 2009. Automating the Eiffel Tower

Here is something dumb and silly but I’m glad we did it. See video below.

In September, 2009 I was just finishing up a bit of a business boondoggle trip – presentations on iOS coding in London, Madrid, Berlin and Paris. (I hope it impressed my Dad that I gave a lecture at the Sorbonne.)

On the final night I went to a little sidewalk café with some colleagues.

It had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. (Lots of places in Paris seem to have a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. for instance this was the view from the office.)

View from Apple office

So anyway we’re at this cafe.

7:00 PM

One of my friends mentioned that the tower lit up once an hour. Sure enough, at 7:00 or so we noticed it flashing dramatically. That was pretty cool!

And we had some more wine.

8:00 PM

And at about 7:57 somebody said “I wonder if it lights up at Exactly 8:00 on the dot? Like, is it synchronized to an atomic clock or something?”

So we all looked at the clocks on our iPhones intently, and sure enough, at EXACTLY 8:00 on the dot, the light show began again. That’s cool!

More wine. maybe beer. I forget. But we must have had something because we were still there at

8:45 PM

We’re still there. we hatched a plan. I’d spent the week showing people how to build iOS apps. Sometimes I’d build a flashlight app, some dumb little thing where you’d tap the screen and a light came on. What if you had an app that turned on the Eiffel Tower lights? Maybe the tower has bluetooth. That’d be pretty cool. Wouldn’t that be hilarious? But how would you do it?

What if you just faked it? Would it be believable, or just stupid? Or maybe funny?

8:57 PM

The three of us are now standing outside. One guy is filming me. The other is holding up his iPhone where I can see it, displaying the time to the second.

8:58 PM

Ready? Let’s start filming. What have we got to lose? Quick, think of something to say.

8:59 PM


We tried the corresponding turn-the-lights-off stunt a minute later but messed up the timing.

14 years later I’m glad we did this silly thing. But I kind of wish I could have a do-over. I’d sell it better!


One Reply to “Paris, 2009. Automating the Eiffel Tower”

  1. Love it! If I ever make it to Paris, I want your app on my iPhone! Btw, what do you call it? Hayman’s Glow? Light ‘Em Up? Steve Goes to Paris? Eiffel Play? Bien fait, Steve!👍

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