Former Apple Engineer Gives Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Original iPhone Introduction

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Just ahead of the second anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, Fred Vogelstein has published a piece in The New York Times that gives a detailed behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into both the first iPhone and its January 9, 2007 announcement, featuring information from key iPhone developers like Andy Grignon, Tony Fadell, and Scott Forstall.

    According to Andy Grignon, the senior manager in charge of the radios of the iPhone, the night before the iPhone announcement was terrifying. Jobs had insisted on a live presentation of the prototype iPhone, which was still in the developmental stages, often "randomly dropping calls, losing its Internet connection, freezing, or simply shutting down."
    At the time of the announcement, only 100 iPhones existed, with some of those featuring significant quality issues like scuff marks and gaps between the screen and the plastic edge. The software, too, was full of bugs, leading the team to set up multiple iPhones to overcome memory issues and restarts. Because of the phone's penchant for crashing, it was programmed to display a full five-bar connection at all times.
    Apple had poured all of its efforts into the iPhone, and its success largely hinged on a flawless presentation. As described by Grignon, there was no backup plan in place if the presentation was a failure, which put enormous pressure on the team.
    Though there were a huge number of factors that could have caused the presentation to fail, it famously went off without a hitch. Grignon shares a final story on how the engineers and managers that worked on both the iPhone and the presentation shared a flask of Scotch as they watched "the best demo any of us had ever seen."

    The full piece, which explores thoughts from other key Apple employees like Tony Fadell and Scott Forstall, is well worth a read. It covers the overwhelming complexity of developing an entirely new product and the extreme lengths that Jobs and his team went to keeping the product a secret.

    Article Link: Former Apple Engineer Gives Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Original iPhone Introduction
  2. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
  3. robertsduney macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2010
  4. hansonjohn590 macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2013
    Why couldn't they just wait a few months until it was more polished?
  5. sphoenix macrumors regular


    Apr 5, 2008
  6. MaSx macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2010
  7. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    Ooo wow, that was chaos.
    but I can relate to this or other developers working for a client, to demo a product and only show what needed to be shown.

    no wonder they need another 6 month to launch the phone when they announced back in january 2007.
  8. 3N16MA macrumors 65816


    Jul 23, 2009
    Just imagine being on stage with all eyes on you after years of rumors about to come true. You also know that the product that is about to change your company has a high chance of crashing during the presentation.

    Most would be nervous or need some cue cards (we have seen this at keynotes before) but Jobs was as cool as ever. Not even a hint of nervousness during that keynote.

    No one does a keynote like Steve Jobs did.
  9. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    What's interesting in this story is Jobs and Ive originally wanted an all aluminum phone, until engineers brought them back to reality. Makes you wonder if their original vision could have been something like the HTC One...

    And that Jobs didn't allow software designers to see the hardware prototypes and hardware designers couldn't see the software. :eek:
  10. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
  11. dannyyankou, Oct 4, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2013

    dannyyankou macrumors G3


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
  12. onthecouchagain macrumors 604


    Mar 29, 2011
    Wondering if this is what's happening right now with the rumored TV that Apple will make...

    Or whatever secret projects they got in the pipeline (iWatch, etc.).
  13. melendezest Suspended

    Jan 28, 2010
    Now that's vision and leadership. Steve made that team do the impossible: make a product that, well, didn't work right appear to be nearly flawless.

    And after release, his team delivered on that vision (ok, eventually).

    This is something that is often underestimated. Just because a team has the skills and abilities to do something does not mean it will get done. That's where great leadership and vision comes in. Painful, yes. But great. The results speak for themselves.

    Steve was, and still is, considered amazing in this regard. Alas, leaders and visionaries like that don't come often.

    Those saying "stop with the worship", etc, etc, just don't get it. It's not about "religious" rhetoric, it's about appreciation, and recognizing skills that are hard to come by and thus incorporate them so as to make us better.
  14. inkswamp macrumors 68030


    Jan 26, 2003
    The humanity! :rolleyes:

    IIRC, there were some issues with public communications filings with the FCC that would have revealed the iPhone. Apple decided to get in front of that instead of letting it steal their thunder. Smart move, IMO. They got a solid 7 months of nonstop buzz out of it.
  15. MacFan782040 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2003
    Scranton, PA
    "An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator...are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone."

    (That still gives me chills)
  16. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    why the terror? the iphone was randomly dropping calls into its third generation of product. i used to laugh at my mom on t-mobile dropping calls until i started to use the iphone
  17. wrkactjob macrumors 65816


    Feb 29, 2008
    Those 1st gen iphones are fast becoming collectors items.

    New and still in original wrapping they are far more expensive than the current 5s.

    if you still have one keep it!

    Fancy This?
  18. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    back then Mac World was apple's big trade show and they had to announce it then.
  19. slapppy macrumors 65816

    Mar 20, 2008
    I have mine, almost in Pristine condition. One silly drop and it was slightly scuffed! LOL Oh well that was a great day. Great story, I wished the writer added more tidbits on how they finally overcome the issues the engineers were trying to solve a few months after the event...
  20. macintologist macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2004
    The iPhone introduction will go down as one the single greatest moment in Apple keynote history. Some close seconds are the original 1984 Mac intro, MW Boston 1997 announcing the Microsoft deal, and my personal favorite is MWSF 1999 introducing the Blue g3 w/Rage 128 graphics and colored iMacs.
  21. scbn macrumors 6502


    Jul 25, 2010
    The first iPhone was like a magic! Like they said, the rest is history... :)
  22. slapppy macrumors 65816

    Mar 20, 2008
    True...No such thing as a final finished product during presentation...specially a brand new never before built by said company. Even presentation notes, slide shows are all changed in the last minute. Sometimes during the presentation. Thats some serious engineering or hacking feat that they did to make it all work so seemless...:p
  23. Terrin macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2011
    I live in Ann Arbor. My buddy on AT&T with his iPhone would drop calls with me repeatedly. Me with an unlocked iPhone dropped a call maybe once in a year.
  24. /dev/toaster macrumors 68020


    Feb 23, 2006
    San Francisco, CA
    I have mine still sitting in a box when I upgraded to the 3g. Hell, it is still running a pre-release of 2.0.

    I am not holding on to it for the value, I want to look at it in 10 years to see how far we have come. The same reason I have my last pager and one of my original Motorola flip phones.
  25. scott911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2009

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