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Behind The Birth Of The iPhone

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Whether you’re an Apple fanboy or a dyed-in-the-wool hater, the influence of the original iPhone cannot be understated. In one fell swoop, Apple essentially created and perfected a new category of device, and it would be years before anyone else caught up. Greg Christie, a senior Apple engineer when the company was building the iPhone, pulled back the curtain a bit on what it was like developing the landmark device.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Christie was originally hired at Apple in 1996 to work on the ill-fated Newton PDA. Fast forward to 2004, when Apple’s Scott Forstall pulled him into a closed-door meeting and asked Christie if he wanted to jump on a secret project to develop a phone with a touchscreen and an integrated music player.

Newton and iPhone
Newton and iPhone (Blake Patterson via Flickr)

Christie agreed to join the project, codenamed “purple”, and in the next year he and his “shockingly small” team ground out features we now take for granted such as the speed of scrolling lists, “bouncing back” at the end of a list, how to redesign text messages into individual conversation streams, and more.

He and the team made secret bi-monthly presentations to Steve Jobs, and eventually to other Apple executives, as well. Eventually designed Jony Ive was included, as well. Those working on the project had to keep everything locked down, including encrypting images of the project and preventing their families from seeing their computers when working at home.

Apple Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs at MacWorld (mylerdude via Flickr)

Starting in early 2005, the iPhone project took flight in earnest, what Christie called a “two-and-a-half year marathon” to the finished iPhone, which was eventually released in 2007. The rest, of course, is history.
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Rest IN Peace Stevie Trillions of us Enjoy Your Creative Dreams Daily

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lipe123 replied on Wed, Mar 26 2014 1:19 PM

Sure Apple made the device smaller and sleeker but long before the first iphone was for sale, while they where doing "research"(stealing/buying ideas from other people), I had a windows mobile 6.4 ipaq from HP.

iPaq released in 2004 first iPhone reveal was in 2007

http://pdadb.net/index.php?m=specs&id=105&view=1&c=hewlett-packard_ipaq_h6340__h6345

Why is apple getting all the recognition as the inventors of the touchscreen smart phone when HP and Microsoft had a product avail to the public 3 years earlier?

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NickShea replied on Wed, Mar 26 2014 1:50 PM

Some of Hot Hardwares articles seem to cater a bit to Apple. I think Steve Jobs was a genius as a business man. Steve was the backbone of Apple and without him they have lost their competitive ferocity, their solid business structure, and a good chunk of ingenuity. The only thing that apple has left going for them is their ginormous bank account and the recognition that was brought to it by Steve Jobs. The only thing Apple has ever really been good at is making money and making things look pretty.

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scolaner replied on Wed, Mar 26 2014 3:03 PM

I don't disagree with you on post-Steve Jobs Apple. I'm on record saying that they've done next to nothing in terms of innovation since his death.

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scolaner replied on Wed, Mar 26 2014 3:04 PM

Do you remember what it was like to use those Windows Mobile devices years ago? It was a terrible experience. Basically just Windows, but worse, and crammed onto a too-small device.

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Jason replied on Wed, Mar 26 2014 5:57 PM

While I myself bought an iphone and returned it the next weekend for an android device I still think it good device. The biggest reason I would ever want an iphone over and android is pretty much mainly the selection of apps. Plenty of times there have been apps for iphone that I couldn't even find something that was close to it for android.

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RiCoFrost replied on Wed, Mar 26 2014 6:25 PM

I had that HP Ipaq its was ok, the hardware so wasnt really for it back then.

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they didnt really create it first so much as they had better marketing and sales is all

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Most computing and technological ideas came out of Xerox PARC. But Xerox isn't as common of a name as Microsoft or Apple. Why? Because it doesn't particularly matter who invented it. Technology is about iteration. Apple did it well and innovated upon the original invention.

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We know no-body can even think to compare with Steve but I think Tim doing a pretty ok job alone would you guys agree?

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