The birth of the iPhone, narrated by one of its engineers

In February 2005, Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple Inc., gave an ultimatum to the senior software engineer Greg Christie. Christie’s team took months trying to define the vision for the software which would be the iPhone and how its elements interact when Jobs said that they had two weeks to do the project or assigned to another group.

“Steve had basically lost patience”, recalls Christie, who remains at the helm of Apple UI. “I wanted bigger ideas and bigger concepts”.

Christie’s team designed several iPhone features, like swiping to unlock, make calls from the phone book and play music with touch controls. The iPhone replaces the keyboard with that then common on phones with a screen that covered the entire surface of the device, and offered software that seemed more a personal computer programs.

Christie had never spoken in public about the early days of the development of the iPhone, but Apple allowed to do it in the lobby of a new trial on violation of patents against Samsung Electronics Co. to underline a key element of its legal defence: what so innovative was the iPhone in 2007, the year of his debut.

Since then, Apple has sold over 470 million iPhones. The phone is in the center of disputes over patents in several countries between Apple and Samsung, the two manufacturers of large and more profitable smartphones. The Silicon Valley giant claims that Samsung copied their designs and software features, while the South Korean manufacturer argues that many of the innovations of the iPhone and iPad are not exclusive to Apple.

In another patent trial, a court in California ruled in favor of Apple and Samsung ordered to pay him $ 930 million. Samsung is appealing the decision.

The next round starts on March 31 in the United States. Apple claims that Samsung infringed five patents more, including the role of “slide to unlock” whose invention attributed to Christie. For its part, accuses Samsung of violating two of its patents. The compensation could be awarded more than in the previous trial, because this case covers features models of latest handsets sold in greater volume.

A Samsung spokesman declined to comment.

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In late 2004, Christie, who joined Apple in 1996, he was working on a program for Macintosh computers when Scott Forstall, senior member of the software team of the company, went into his office, closed the door and asked if wanted to participate in a secret project called “purple” (purple). The team would design a program operated by a touch screen phone and an integrated music player.

By then, Jobs had and had revived Apple refocused around key products including the iPod. Greg Joswiak, vice president in charge of iPhone and iOS product marketing, monitored other phone makers as it appeared a device that integrates a music player that threaten the iPod.

Christie’s team set about the details, like the perfect speed to slide the phone lists. Account he “beat her head against the wall” about changing the text messages in a chronological list of individual similar to a series of chats separate conversations on a computer messages.

He also says he was “incredibly small”. Apple declined to specify the number of members.

For months, Christie made bimonthly presentations Jobs in a windowless conference room on the second floor of the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. Only a handful of employees had access to that room; the cleaning staff had banned their entry.

The day after Christie Team Jobs finally impressed with his vision of software for the iPhone, had to repeat the presentation to Bill Campbell, director of Apple and a confidant of Jobs. Christie recalls that Campbell said the phone would be better than the original Mac. Campbell did not return a call seeking comment.

A few days later, Jobs called the team to a third presentation, this time to Jony Ive, the chief designer at Apple. Ive’s team was designing glass for the device. “I was curious to see how we were going to do the magic trick” to manipulate the software, says Christie.

With each presentation, Jobs took over narration and endorsed. “Their excitement knew no bounds”, recalls Christie. Neither his demand to keep the project secret. Jobs ordered the employees working on the project at home that will use a computer in a private part of his home to prevent someone from accidentally seeing the details.

The green light in early 2005 was the beginning of what Christie called “a marathon two and a half years”. This involved reformulating each of the phones from how to check voice messages to how to display the calendar. Jobs was obsessed with every detail.

In late 2006, a few months before Jobs formally introduced the iPhone, Chief Executive Christie asked what music albums would be best to show how to move pictures from the covers. Jobs wanted the lids have strong colors and many faces to the phone screen was brilliant, but the music had to be something she liked him. They decided on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles.

In the six months before the iPhone went on sale in June 2007, Christie’s team made other changes. At the request of Jobs, eliminated the screen view divided for email, with information from the sender on one side and the message on the other. “Steve seemed it was silly from the screen in such a small screen”, recalls Christie.

Almost seven years later, Christie says a moment stands in her memory. A few days before the filing of Jobs, Christie entered the auditorium where the event would take place through a side door using two security IDs, then opened a thick curtain. What he saw was a giant image of the iPhone home screen projected on the screen in a dark room. At that time, he says, he realized how important it would be the phone.


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