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Apple Engineer Reveals Details of the Original iPhone’s Birth [u]

Apple has made available to the Wall Street Journal details of the original iPhone never heard before on the eve of their new patent-infringement trial against Samsung. The move is part of Apple’s strategy to show the innovation the iPhone contained when it launched in 2007.

Engineer Greg Christie shares a tidbit of the ultimatum then CEO Steve Jobs gave him:

Mr. Christie’s team had been struggling for months to lay out the software vision for what would become the iPhone as well as how the parts would work together. Now, Mr. Jobs said the team had two weeks or he would assign the project to another group.

“Steve had pretty much had it,” said Mr. Christie, who still heads Apple’s user-interface team. “He wanted bigger ideas and bigger concepts.”

Mr. Christie’s team devised many iPhone features, such as swiping to unlock the phone, placing calls from the address book, and a touch-based music player. The iPhone ditched the keyboard then common on advanced phones for a display that covered the device’s entire surface, and it ran software that more closely resembled personal-computer programs.

The article details the secrecy surrounding the iPhone and how Jobs demanded much from Christie to perfect the iconic device’s software, including making bi-weekly presentations to the CEO in a highly secure windowless room—where cleaners weren’t even allowed entry.

Below is an image of the system Apple created to test an early version iPhone OS back in 2006. It is described as a “tethered a plastic touch-screen device— code-named ‘Wallaby’—to an outdated Mac to simulate the slower speeds of a phone hardware”:

MK CL082B APPLE G 20140325185022

The start of the next trial commences on Monday, where Apple claims Samsung has infringed on five additional patents, such as the ‘slide to unlock’ feature Christie had helped invent.

The South Korean company is set to push back by saying Apple violated two of its patents. The second trial could include higher damages since it covers newer devices that had greater sales, compared to the original trial where a jury awarded Apple $929 million in damages.

Update: In a separate smaller article, the WSJ details the secret meeting room where the iPhone was developed (pictured above):

The secret meeting room where most of the design decisions for the original iPhone’s software were made is “hallowed ground” to Greg Christie, who designs the software interface for products and one of the first members recruited to work on the device in 2004.

It doesn’t mean that the windowless room, lit by fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling, looked like anything special. Christie recalled the walls had signs of water damage from a flood in an adjacent bathroom. A few images covered the walls including one of Apple’s “Think Different” posters of famous graphic designer Paul Rand and another of a large chicken running around without its head.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.