Apple Engineer Greg Christie Discusses Creating The Original iPhone

Steve Jobs holding original iPhone

Ahead of the next round of the Apple vs. Samsung legal battle, one of the original iPhone engineers, Greg Christie, spoke to the WSJ about the development of Apple’s breakthrough smartphone.

Much of what he discusses in the Apple-approved interview is already well known, but a few neat details emerge.

At one point, Christie says that Jobs gave the team a two week ultimatum, after which he would move the project to another team if they were unable to create what he was after.

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

It was at this point that Christie and his team created many of the now famous iPhone features, such as the swipe-to-unlock feature and the touch-based music player.

Christie also describes how secretive Apple is when dealing with new projects.

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.”

Mr. Jobs ordered employees working on the project at home to use a computer in a secluded part of the house to prevent anyone from accidentally seeing details. He also demanded that employees encrypt digital images of the device.

The article additionally describes how involved Steve Jobs was with every element of the iPhone’s creation — from obsessing over what music would be shown off during the iPhone’s demo, to urging the team to eliminate a split-screen view for email only months before the public unveiling.

Almost seven years into the life of the iPhone, Mr. Christie said one moment stands out. A few days before Mr. Jobs’s keynote, Mr. Christie entered the auditorium through a side door using two separate security badges, then pulled back a thick curtain. He saw a giant image of the iPhone’s home screen projected onto the screen in the dark room. At that moment, he said, he realized how big the phone would be.

“It was glowing in this huge space,” said Mr. Christie. “My heart skipped a beat and I thought, ‘This is actually happening.'”

The full article — which is well worth a read — can be found at the below link.

  • ♦[PharLeff]♦

    Too bad you have to log in to read the article.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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