Apple engineer Greg Christie discusses the process of creating the original iPhone

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Apple made Greg Christie, one of its original iPhone engineers, available before yet another round of patent fights with Samsung, allowing Christie to further expand on the stories of the iPhone’s secretive development under then-CEO Steve Jobs in a report by the Wall Street Journal. While some of what Christie said isn’t new information, there are some interesting anecdotes near the end of his interview.

For example, in 2005—two years before the Apple went public with the iPhone—Christie’s team was responsible for planning how the device would look and work. When the team found itself floundering and unable to settle on how the phone should work, Christie was told that his team could either figure it out over the next two weeks or be moved to another project so someone else could solve the problems.

Needless to say, Christie’s team got to work immediately, eventually creating many of the concepts you’ll find on just about any modern smartphone, such as the “slide to unlock” gesture and threaded text message conversations.

Christie also discusses how he was recruited to the iPhone project:

In late 2004, Mr. Christie was working on software for Apple’s Macintosh computers when Scott Forstall, a senior member of the company’s software team, walked into his office, closed the door and asked if he wanted to work on a secret project, codenamed “purple.” The team would develop a phone with an integrated music player, operated by a touch screen.

The article goes on to describe Steve Jobs’ growing excitement with the project and desire to manage it down to the last detail, the security and secrecy that went into the development process, and some of the user interface problems the team found themselves fighting to overcome—including what happened to the split-view Mail application Jobs was so proud of at the iPhone keynote.

You can read the full article on the WSJ website.


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  1. Cary Groneveldt - 9 years ago

    “You can read the full article on the WSJ website.”
    No you can’t, as it’s firmly ensconsed behind a paywall.

    • gsetim - 9 years ago

      Yup. This is what will kill the WSJ and other sites like it. Many have already fallen.

      • Frederick Fidura - 9 years ago

        So the WSJ should just give away it’s product for free?

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        Frederick, you’re a moron. This is the Internet, not a magazine stand.

  2. Jomy Muttathil - 9 years ago

    When you find yourself against the wall…
    Google the title of the article “Apple Engineer Recalls the iPhone’s Birth”
    Then click the link to read the article.

  3. herb02135go - 9 years ago

    That photo could also be of the room where Samsung created its phones! Because, according to many of those who post here, their “butt-ugly phones” copy the iPhone.

    Did I get that talking point right?

  4. All I know is I have done nothing but miss iOS6 since I ‘accidently’ upgraded to iOS7 during an iTunes upgrade….I am so bummed and miss iOS6 terribly. I don’t know what happened to Jony Ives’ taste but everything looks like a 2D palm pilot now and skeumorphism is one reason why we all have retina screens! We are all waiting for the Holodeck in our virtual worlds, not candy-crush de-evolution! And on what Apple planet is a complete flushing of UI intuitiveness? It’s like Apple’s artsy fartsy love of their so so elegant but boring new interface comes with a big snobby RTFM if you want to use it….Jobs is rolling in his grave I know it and its’ Ives doing the shaking! Come back Christie!!!