Down memory lane: the original iPhone unveiling story

Fred Vogelstein, an engineer at Apple, has been in the news for an article he published in the NYTimes. The article was titled, “And then Steve Said, Let there be an iPhone”, and has generated reader interest because it reminisces on the events that led to the first iPhone launch. The detailed article covers interesting aspects.


The article, while reliving Steve Job’s legacy, also shed light on how Apple was like back then. Furthermore, it provides an insight into the atmosphere before Jobs was to give his keynote.

An interesting bit tells us about Andy Grignon’s tough time at explaining to Jobs and Jonathan Ive (Apple’s design chief) that the functionality (radio waves through metal) they were looking for was impractical.

Grignon indicates how difficult it was to explain to two non-physics/science based people that what they were demanding was not possible. Steve Jobs, as mentioned by others, was not the easiest person to talk to. A fierce “finisher”, he put a lot of pressure on his team to meet deadlines. Vogelstein recalls that this behavior led to a pretty anxious atmosphere within Apple, and the iOS software division was the hub of it.

Engineers who had enough of shouting matches quit. However they came back after some rest had restored their wellness. He also cites a humorous incident when Kim Vorrath, Forestall Chief of Staff, in a fit of anger slammed her door shut in a manner that it took co-workers a lot of time to get it un-stuck.

Then the article eventually draws to the climax, the Macworld keynote of 2007. This was the day; Steve Jobs presented the first iPhone to the world. While the world remembers the enchanting presentation of Jobs, Vogelstein recalls the tense atmosphere within Apple. Many workers were worried what would happen if something went wrong.

He specifically mentioned Grignon who was terrified if a technical glitch would ruin Job’s presentation. That was perhaps Steve Jobs legacy that during his product-demo launches, no glitch ever happened.

The article is a pretty good read and is perhaps a decent reflection with Steve Jobs second anniversary coming soon.

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