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Old Apr 24, 2014, 03:46 PM   #1
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Creation of Original iPhone Browser Detailed by Former Apple Engineer




Countless details on the development of the original iPhone have been shared by various Apple employees in several different publications, but a new story on the creation of the phone's first web browser has surfaced courtesy of Francisco Tolmasky, an early iPhone engineer who interviewed with The New York Times.

Tolmasky joined Apple when he was just 20 years old, working under Steve Jobs to create a mobile web browser for the original iPhone. Jobs regularly gave him feedback on his project, often sending Tolmasky back to the drawing board because his creation wasn't "magical" enough.
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"Steve was really adamant, where he said, 'This needs to be like magic. Go back, this isn't magical enough!'" Mr. Tolmasky said about his experience developing the mobile Safari app. "I remember being very frustrated. This was, like, an impossible task."
Countless hours of work resulted in Safari for iPhone, which used WebKit to load web pages on a small screen and allowed users to interact with sites via pinches, swipes, and taps.

As with other accounts of the iPhone's creation, Tolmasky details the intense security behind the project, explaining how the software team was split into sections focusing on web and apps. "Each one of these things is basically one person," explained Tolmasky, speaking of the original iPhone apps.

In one anecdote, Tolmasky divulges the origin of the iPhone's keyboard, which reportedly came about during a week-long hackathon where Jobs instructed the software team to work only on keyboard prototypes. The engineer who won the hackathon was assigned to the keyboard permanently.

According to Tolmasky, Apple's original iPhone Maps app was a last minute addition to the device, as Jobs decided the app should be added just a few weeks before the smartphone was first introduced at the Macworld Expo in January of 2007. It only took his teammate, Chris Blumenberg, a week to have a workable prototype.
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"Within a week he had something that was working, and in two weeks he had something to show at Macworld that we were showing," Mr. Tolmasky said. "That was the kind of effect Steve could have on you: This is important, this needs to happen, and you do it."
Tolmasky left Apple shortly after the original iPhone was released as the company no longer felt like a startup, and now he works as a mobile game designer. His most recent creation, Bonsai Slice [Direct Link], was released today. Tolmasky's full interview and additional details on his game can be found in the original NYT piece.

Article Link: Creation of Original iPhone Browser Detailed by Former Apple Engineer
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 03:50 PM   #2
FakeWozniak
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Very smart, share a little bit about early Apple development process, quote Steve Jobs, and advertise your new product in the process. This guy just made a million bucks from the NYT story.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by FakeWozniak View Post
Very smart, share a little bit about early Apple development process, quote Steve Jobs, and advertise your new product in the process. This guy just made a million bucks from the NYT story.
Absolutely but who can blame him!

Although the comment about Apple no longer felt like a 'Start-Up' is slightly weird to say the least....not sure what he was smoking!
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:06 PM   #4
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This is probably the worst idea I have ever seen for a game!

"Yeah, I broke my iPad playing Bonsai Slice... sweaty hands and all..."

or

"Now you can invite friends to look like idiots with you! Challenge each other to see who can achieve take-off first!"
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:09 PM   #5
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It's amazing what the talent at Apple accomplish with a fraction of the time and people it takes Google to do the same thing.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:17 PM   #6
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It's amazing what the talent at Apple accomplish with a fraction of the time and people it takes Google to do the same thing.
agreed 100%
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:29 PM   #7
Since
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When these engineers' names are exposed like this... other companies will hunt for them.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:33 PM   #8
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FWIW I think the current keyboard really has lots of room for improvement.

Just look at some of the 3rd party keyboards that are really kicking ass now days. I think Apple should either

1) Acquire one of these companies.

2) Allow 3rd party keyboards on iOS

3) Offer some LSD and see if they can't stir up a little creativity within their own ranks (joking)
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 04:51 PM   #9
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"No longer felt like a startup"?

That's a pretty immature way to look at things, but alright.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:12 PM   #10
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Tolmasky left Apple shortly after the original iPhone was released as the company no longer felt like a startup
From my experience, start-up means low pay, poor benefits or no benefits, long hours, questionable future, very very hard work, uncomfortable working space. It also means freedom to be creative, has a better-than-the-lottery chance of cashing in on the equity at some point, and to some extent being in control of one's own future.

I think people often incorrectly think start-up means soho-style loft offices, napping pods, bringing your dog to work, no dress code, and brand new macbook's every year for all employees.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:13 PM   #11
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3) Offer some LSD and see if they can't stir up a little creativity within their own ranks (joking)
Steve would've allowed this.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by oneMadRssn View Post
From my experience, start-up means low pay, poor benefits or no benefits, long hours, questionable future, very very hard work, uncomfortable working space. It also means freedom to be creative, has a better-than-the-lottery chance of cashing in on the equity at some point, and to some extent being in control of one's own future.

I think people often incorrectly think start-up means soho-style loft offices, napping pods, bringing your dog to work, no dress code, and brand new macbook's every year for all employees.
I'm pretty sure an engineer working for Apple in 2007 would have quite a bit of equity to cash in today.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by FakeWozniak View Post
Very smart, share a little bit about early Apple development process, quote Steve Jobs, and advertise your new product in the process. This guy just made a million bucks from the NYT story.
Can you blame him? It's called marketing. After all he does have bragging rights. Where the game is concerned, does it sell iPad insurance as an in-app purchase?
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:29 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by FakeWozniak View Post
Very smart, share a little bit about early Apple development process, quote Steve Jobs, and advertise your new product in the process. This guy just made a million bucks from the NYT story.
chump change for the guy who wrote the first iphone safari... he deserves it all.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:38 PM   #15
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He needs to market his new product. May as well break an old NDA to gain some publicity.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:46 PM   #16
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I think it’s hilarious that Jobs actually insisted on a ‘magical’ browser.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 05:47 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Chrjy View Post
Although the comment about Apple no longer felt like a 'Start-Up' is slightly weird to say the least....not sure what he was smoking!
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Originally Posted by musika View Post
"No longer felt like a startup"?

That's a pretty immature way to look at things, but alright.
Consider things from his perspective: during the development of the iPhone he was working on a tiny team and had complete ownership of an entire app. That is thoroughly start-up like.

In the original NYT article that is not even a direct quote from him, but the reporter's interpretation of what he said. Given that the article also indirectly reports him giving a "rare window into the company’s start-up-like product development," the "no longer felt like a start-up" paraphrase makes perfect sense in context:

"Mr. Tolmasky said he left Apple in late 2007 because by then, the iPhone had become such a success that the team had to grow and priorities changed. It no longer felt like a start-up, so he left to start his own."

Clearly, he's someone who likes to own a project, not share it with a team of 10 or 20. He prefers broad-stroke inventing to focused work in a narrower niche. That kind of self-knowledge as a developer is the exact opposite of immature and weird. It's mature and wonderful and all too rare.

I am sure he is ten times as happy and productive doing what he does now as he would have been as one cog in the machine at Apple. And there are plenty of developers who prefer to have highly-focused expertise and responsibilities. I am sure one of them is being far more effective in his old job than he would have been.

The whole workforce wins when people are smart enough to put themselves in situations that play to their strengths.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 06:16 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by DShap5 View Post
This is probably the worst idea I have ever seen for a game!

"Yeah, I broke my iPad playing Bonsai Slice... sweaty hands and all..."

or

"Now you can invite friends to look like idiots with you! Challenge each other to see who can achieve take-off first!"
Or, "My friend and I both broke our displays because we were standing too close to each other while playing Slice."
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 06:22 PM   #19
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Well, when I was his age…wait a minute. I am his age. When we were our age, he was making Mobile Safari directly under Steve Jobs, and I was just dinking around in my dorm room—waiting for my Motorola Rokr E1 to take 45 minutes to sync 100 songs from iTunes. How pathetic.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 08:04 PM   #20
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People may not remember how amazing the original iPhone browser was compared to aha existed. It truly was magical. As one of the few crazies who waited in long lines to have the original iPhone day one, the web browser was perhaps the most amazing part of the device.

Being able to render full web pages on a device so small was revolutionary. All previous attempts at mobile web browsing were an affront to god and nature.

People take the experience for granted now but it truly was amazing back then.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 08:56 PM   #21
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sorry to blindly quote, but this is hilarious

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Mr. Jobs was notorious for throwing his weight around however he could. One person on the iPhone design team was also named Steve, which caused some confusion in meetings. Mr. Jobs sought to change this.

“At some point Steve Jobs got really frustrated with this and said ‘Guess what, you’re Margaret from now on,’” Mr. Tolmasky said. From there on, members of the team would always address the designer Steve as Margaret.
steve jobs so boss. sucks for Margaret
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 10:54 PM   #22
Will do good
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Wow, what a smart guy.

Works for SJ at 20, sold a company for 20 million and he's only 29 now.

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Old Apr 24, 2014, 11:00 PM   #23
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It truly was the first powerful mobile web browser.
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Old Apr 24, 2014, 11:43 PM   #24
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It truly was the first powerful mobile web browser.
That it was, truly magical indeed...

All we can hope is that someone within is currently lighting a fire under asses...
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Old Apr 25, 2014, 12:38 AM   #25
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"Steve was really adamant, where he said, 'This needs to be like magic. Go back, this isn't magical enough!'" Mr. Tolmasky said about his experience developing the mobile Safari app. "I remember being very frustrated. This was, like, an impossible task."
No offense intended to this guy, but it doesn't sound like he really fit the Apple culture. Frustrated? He got to work directly with Steve Jobs when he was 20 on the most important product of the decade. A lot of people (me included) have worked insane hours at startups for products that no one's even heard of! I would've killed for the opportunity he had!
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