Since the unveiling of its iPhone 4S back in October, Apple has received heaps of praise for one of its new features in particular: Siri. The digital assistant is by far the most impressive voice recognition service built into a mobile device, and it seems everyone has been blown away by it.
What many of you may not know, however, is that Siri is one of the few Apple products that wasn’t created by the team in Cupertino. Instead, Siri was created by Dag Kittlaus, a 34-year-old man from Norway, and it has made him a multimillionaire.
Kittlaus, a former Motorola executive, co-founded Siri along with buddies Adam Cheyer, Tom Gruber, and Norman Winarsky back in 2007. The company was formed at the Stanford Research Institute, with the help of a $25 million backing from Morgenthaler and Menlo Ventures.
Just a few years later, Kittlaus and company received a phone call from Steve Jobs. He wanted to purchase Siri, and reportedly offered the group $200 million, most of which went to Kittlaus. Kittlaus then joined Apple in Cupertino to develop his software for the iPhone.
Of course it was a great moment when Steve Jobs called and wanted to buy my company. It was surreal. When I heard that it was him, I knew we had made it big. In advance, we were pretty confident that the technology we had developed was so startling that we would get some kind of breakthrough. Steve was the first caller.
According to a profile by Norwegian publication E24!, Kittlaus departed Apple back in October so he could spend more time with his family in Chicago and pursue other projects, one of which is reportedly to write a novel. While he was with the company, Kittlaus learned that Apple isn’t all about making a profit, and that the drive behind the company “is the desire to create a fantastic product.”
In the profile, Kittlaus also spoke about the death of Steve Jobs, who passed away on October 5, aged just 56:
Well, my strongest reaction came when I realized how sick he was, that he had not long to live. There I realized the job, we were together every day. My reaction to that was a lot stronger than I was prepared, it put me out properly. He is the inventor in history that changed the most, dozens of industries around the world is turned upside down.
Siri in Norwegian mean “beautiful victorious counsellor,” but it is believed Kittlaus named his application after Siri Kalvig, a famous Norwegian meteorologist and businesswoman, with whom he worked at a telecommunications company in Norway.