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BBC’s Inside Story of the Original iPhone Shares New Facts

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Today marks exactly 10 years since the original iPhone was announced by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and although we have heard many inside stories that made Apple’s smartphone the cult product it is today, a new story shared by the BBC has revealed some facts most of us probably didn’t know. One such interesting fact is a fiery debate at Apple about whether the iPhone should have a keyboard or not.

Steve jobs

“Steve had expressly told me it was totally top secret. He said he was going to fire anyone who tells the world”, said Tony Fadell, who is sometimes referred to as the “godfather” of the iPod. “I was sweating bullets”, he told BBC, as he recalled the time when he thought he had lost the prototype of the iPhone just two hours ahead of the its debut. He’d just got off a plane, felt his pockets, and it was gone. After two hours of search, he eventually found it. “It fell out of my pocket and it was lodged in between the seats!”.

Fadell also shared how he planned a fact-finding world tour to meet experts and check out research labs of telecoms experts. 

It began with one manufacturer in Malmo, Sweden – a trip which ended with all of their bags, notes and equipment being stolen from their cars while they were inside a restaurant having dinner. “They knew we were building a phone,” Fadell said. “We asked our host where to get to dinner,? we were there all of 20 or 30 minutes because we were tired”.

“When we got back to the car, every single thing in the car was gone. Every single bag. We swear it was corporate espionage”. If it was, there were few secrets lost. The team returned home without many of their belongings, but heads full of ideas.

Meanwhile, the ongoing debate of whether the iPhone should have a keyboard or not, went on. “That fight raged on for around four months,” Fadell said. “It was a very ugly situation.” Jobs, who had his heart set on a touchscreen, “became so incensed with people disagreeing with his ideas that he enforced a blunt policy”.

You can read the lengthy article in its entirety at this link.

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  • tomm

    For those of us here in Victoria, do you know that the mayor of Saanich, Richard Atwell worked on the ipod operating system as a programmer at Apple under Tony Fadell? I hope he won’t mind me sharing this interesting tidbit.

  • Thanks for sharing, very cool.

    Update: it’s public knowledge as stated on his bio on the Saanich website–neat fact!

    “Metrowerks was eventually acquired by Motorola and after five enjoyable years in Austin, Richard left Metrowerks/Motorola for Apple, Inc. to join the iPod & Special Projects team as a member of a small group responsible for the user interface of the early iPod music players.”

  • tomm

    it is absolutely the truth Gary. Richard is a good friend of mine and he told me that himself. I’ve known him for a number of years now, we both worked on the RITE Plan (tertiary sewage treatment advocacy group) and I was on his campaign team when he was running 2 years ago.

  • I updated my original comment, by the way. So yes, I absolutely believe you 🙂

  • tomm

    Thanks for the quote. Gary I did not know that it was on the Saanich website.

  • MleB1

    I once read that originally Jobs only wanted Apple apps on the phone – completely proprietary. Thankfully somebody talked him off that ledge (I suspect pointing out the profit of a proprietary ‘store’ instead) – I mean, can you imagine?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I think the fact that there was already a popular App Store on jailbroken iPhones might have helped him make that decision 🙂

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