The history of the iPhone, on its 10th anniversary

Internet History Podcast:

Stop for a minute and imagine how momentous a change the iPod engendered within Apple itself. This was a company that, for nearly 30 years, had been a personal computer company. The blue sky thinking that allowed Apple to make a stand-alone MP3 player—to enter a mature market as an outsider and believe it could dominate—also engendered the sort of fearlessness that made it possible to break with other long-standing Apple shibboleths. The iPod eventually worked with Windows machines, even at the risk of cannibalizing Mac sales. iTunes eventually worked with Windows machines. Apple (gasp) made a Windows app! As Phil Schiller told Walter Isaacson in his Steve Jobs biography: “We felt we should be in the music player business, not just in the Mac business.” It was this conceptual leap, this strategic bravery (just as much as a penchant for good design and reliable manufacturing) that would be responsible for Apple’s success in the 2000s.

Apple was no longer just a computer company. It could be whatever it wanted to be.


“I was actually pushing to do two sizes—to have a regular iPhone and an iPhone mini like we had with the iPod,” Apple’s chief hardware executive Jon Rubenstein says in Dogfight. “I thought one could be a smartphone and one could be a dumber phone. But we never got a lot of traction on the small one, and in order to do one of these projects you really need to put all your wood behind one arrow.”


Jobs himself approved the list of people who could participate in the preparations, and more than a dozen security guards were on post 24 hours a day. Jobs originally decreed that all outside contractors hired to staff the event would have to sleep in the building the night before so that no details could leak out. Cooler heads eventually talked him out of it.


Jobs rehearsed his presentation for six solid days, but at the final hour, the team still couldn’t get the phone to behave through an entire run through. Sometimes it lost internet connection. Sometimes the calls wouldn’t go through. Sometimes the phone just shut down.”It quickly got very uncomfortable,” Andy Grignon, the senior radio engineer for the iPhone remembered in Dogfight. “Very rarely did I see him become completely unglued. It happened. But mostly he just looked at you and very directly said in a very loud and stern voice, ‘You are fucking up my company,’ or, ‘If we fail, it will be because of you.’”

This is a great, great read.