WSJ Interviews iPhone Engineer Just Before Another Samsung Patent Trial

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In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, software engineer Greg Christie opens up about how the iPhone came to be.

Mr. Christie started at Apple in 1996 to work on the Newton, so he has a long relationship with Apple's touch screens. He was invited to work on a secret project in late 2004, resulting in two meetings a month (in a room with extremely limited access) with Steve Jobs to show progress and get feedback on the software that would power the iPhone.

You may wonder why Mr. Christie, still an Apple employee, has suddenly become so chatty. According to the Journal, "Apple made him available on the eve of a new patent-infringement trial against Samsung Electronics to highlight a key element of its legal strategy—just how innovative the iPhone was in 2007 when it arrived." Mystery solved! It's all going to come out in court anyway, so Apple is getting out ahead of the story by releasing it themselves.

It's an interesting read, and confirms that a good portion of Apple design is thoughtfulness. How fast should a list scroll? What happens when you get to the end? Someone made a decision about how every single pixel of this new device would be an Apple-level user experience.

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There is a lot of detail in this article that confirms what people already know about Apple under Steve Jobs: Not even cleaning people were allowed into that meeting room, employees were told if they worked at home to work where nobody would accidentally see anything. And yet, all these details are being published in the Wall Street Journal, made possible by Apple under Tim Cook.

I love this part: 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.'"

I was at that Stevenote, and I know how excited and impressed I was as a spectator. I can't even imagine how it would have felt as someone directly responsible for the iPhone.

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Comments

Kelly Guimont

A bonus link to the piece WSJ ran about the actual room: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/03/25/inside-a-secret-apple-room-where-iphone-software-was-born/

xmattingly

Yeah, I’ve always thought that keynote was one of Jobs’ best ever. He was on the mark every second, and I remember the rumor mill previously suggesting that Apple may produce an iPod with a touch screen… and here he’s showing off one that also happened to be a phone!

And the declaration, “...and boy, have we patented it!” stands out in my mind as a harbinger of years of design thievery and litigation that followed.

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