Original iPhone Engineer Greg Christie Gives Details on Development Process

originaliphoneA few new insider details on the development of the original iPhone have come to light thanks to Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie, who gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal with permission from Apple, ahead of a new patent infringement trial against Samsung that is set to begin soon.

According to Christie, who joined the secret "purple" iPhone project after an invitation from Scott Forstall, his team was responsible for many key iPhone elements, such as sliding to unlock, placing calls from the address book, and more. He and his team spent countless hours perfecting details like the speed of scrolling, and the feel of bouncing back at the end of a list.

He said his team "banged their head against the wall" over how to change text messages from a chronological list of individual messages to a series of separate ongoing conversations similar to instant messaging on a computer.

He also said the team was "shockingly small." Apple declined to specify the number of members.

Christie gave two progress reports to Jobs each month, in a small, windowless meeting room at the company's Cupertino headquarters. Few people had access to the room and even cleaning people were not allowed to enter. The secrecy surrounding the original iPhone's design was incredible, with Jobs even requiring employees to encrypt images of the device.

Jobs was initially unhappy with Christie's progress on the device, and gave his team two weeks to improve.

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

Christie's team was able to impress Jobs within the deadline, later giving presentations to Apple's design chief Jony Ive and Apple director Bill Cambell, who said the iPhone "would be better than the original Mac." All three approved the 2005 design, kicking off a "2 and a half year marathon" where the iPhone was designed from the ground up with Jobs clearing every minor detail, as has been noted in several previous reports of the iPhone's development.

Christie's details on the creation of the original iPhone come just ahead of a second major patent infringement lawsuit with Samsung, set to begin later in March. Apple initially accused Samsung of grossly infringing on both its patents and its designs in 2011, a lawsuit that resulted in a $890 million penalty for the South Korean company in the United States.

While the first lawsuit covered older devices, the second U.S. patent lawsuit between the two companies covers more recent products like the Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5, and the iPad 4.

The full interview on The Wall Street Journal, which is well worth reading, also includes additional tidbits on the secrecy behind the development of the iPhone, major last minute changes, and details on the original iPhone's unveiling.

Top Rated Comments

Millah Avatar
111 months ago
That is why I'm holding on to iOS6 and Snow Leopard for as long as I can…
Just like my Mac 128. When Scully produced those awful ProFormas I had to switch to Windows.
Scully without Jobs reminds me of Ives and Cook of today.

So you think Steve Jobs is the genius that he is, but is incapable of choosing leadership to keep his vision alive? I think that's pretty insulting to Jobs true brilliance, which was talent management/recruiting and having good "taste" in people, not just products.

Scully and the Apple of 1985 was not an organization that Jobs set up himself. First of all, he was much younger and less experienced. Second, the board of directors didn't allow Jobs to have that level of control over the organization. Scully was approved by Jobs to be CEO due to inexperience as well as pressure from the board, who were money hungry types and not visionaries. The only group Jobs assembled entirely himself was the Macintosh team, only 100 people. That was all he was allowed to do.

2014 Apple is a completely different beast than 1985. Let alone the fact that Tim Cook has been Jobs' right hand man for over 15 years while Scully wasn't. This is an organization assembled from top to bottom by Steve Jobs himself. From the leadership to the structure to the culture to the processes, all Steve Jobs. Jobs even created internally the Apple University during his last few years.

To compare Apple today to the Scully Apple is a complete slap in the face to the mighty Steve Jobs you think was irreplaceable. It's just funny to me, people treat him like a God, but then slap him in the face when it comes to his ability to leave his creation in capable hands.

I'm pretty sure Jobs cared about it much more than you. And I'm pretty sure he thought much longer and harder about it than you have. And I'm pretty sure he knows Tim Cook and Jony Ive much better than you.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheRainKing Avatar
111 months ago
How Apple miss Steve and his eye for detail and perfectionism.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChrisTX Avatar
111 months ago
It's funny how many of the technologies from the original iPhone we often take for granted in our current smartphones. I even recall users of Blackberries and other various smartphones poking fun at iPhone users and their "pinchers" because of the touch capabilities and pinch to zoom. Oh how the iPhone changed it all. What a great read!
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BillyMatt87 Avatar
111 months ago
That attention to small details and perfectionism died with iOS 7 and Jony Ive's train-wreck software "design"
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Clubber Avatar
111 months ago
Ugh. Ran into a paywall.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xionxiox Avatar
111 months ago
I am tired of hearing "designed from the ground up"

why? :confused:
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
tim cook spring loaded event

Six Major Products to Expect From Apple in 2023

Sunday September 25, 2022 10:57 am PDT by
As we approach the end of a busy product release season for Apple with only new iPads and Macs left to be announced over the next month or so, we're also setting our sights on 2023. Apple is rumored to have several major products in the pipeline for next year, including new Macs, a new HomePod, a VR/AR headset, and so much more. Other than new iPhones and Apple Watches, which are expected...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Don't Want the Apple Watch Ultra or Series 8? Amazon Has Record Low Prices on Series 7 Models This Week

Friday September 23, 2022 6:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are now available to purchase, but if you aren't interested in these updates you can save a lot of money on Series 7 models right now on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. The best deals are on cellular...
iphone 14 pro max deep purple

iPhone 15 'Ultra' Could Replace Pro Max Model Next Year

Sunday September 25, 2022 7:02 am PDT by
Apple is gearing up to possibly replace its "Pro Max" iPhone with an all-new "Ultra" iPhone 15 model next year, reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for the iPhone 15, Apple is planning a revamped design alongside USB-C and a potential name change. Apple could replace its "Pro Max" branding, which it started to use...
AirPods Pro Second Generation 2 Pairing Feature 1

AirPods Pro 2 Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting

Friday September 23, 2022 9:40 am PDT by
Customers who personalize their second-generation AirPods Pro charging case with an engraving will now have that engraving reflected directly on iOS as they pair and connect their AirPods Pro. Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

New 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Reportedly Launching Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 7:08 am PDT by
Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report does not mention specific models, but it very likely refers to the next-generation 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros given that the 13-inch model was already updated earlier this year. There has been uncertainty surrounding the timing of new 14-inch and...