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Apple software engineer details development of original iPhone

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie offers a detailed look at the development process that culminated in the first iPhone.

iPhone
Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs presenting the original iPhone in 2007.


Christie tells the tale of how an ultimatum from late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs pushed the engineer and his team to create what would become the first iPhone, the WSJ reports.

According to Christie, his team had been working on a "software vision" for the handheld when Jobs gave him two weeks to come up with something before the project was assigned to another group. What the engineering team developed would later become iPhone OS and ultimately the current iOS.

Along with "swipe to unlock," touch-based inputs and gestures, Christie's team created what can be considered the blueprint for modern smartphone operating systems.

At least some of the ideas came from Christie's work with the Newton PDA team, which the engineer was part of after joining Apple in 1996. The engineer was offered the chance to work on the iPhone project in 2004 by former executive Scott Forstall, who at the time said Apple was developing a phone/media player hybrid with touch capabilities.

After months of highly secret work on "project purple," including bi-weekly meetings with Jobs himself, Christie and his "shockingly small" team came up with a solution worthy of approval. The idea had to be pitched first to Jobs, then to Apple board director Bill Campbell and finally to Jony Ive.

Jobs became increasingly excited about the iPhone's software possibilities, Christie said, and began to add his own narrative with each successive presentation.

"His excitement for it was boundless," said Christie.

The article goes on to detail the steps all employees working on the project had to take to keep the device secret. Jobs reportedly told work could only be done in a secluded area of an employee's house and all images of the phone had to be encrypted.

The story comes ahead of the scheduled start date for Apple's second California patent trial against Samsung. Much of the litigation revolves around software patents Christie himself had at least some hand in creating.
post #2 of 26
Working under pressure really can make peoe think creatively and cut through the crap. That jobs fellow was an evil genius. And by evil I mean awesome.
post #3 of 26
"including bi-weekly meetings with Jobs himself"

No shit, Sherlock.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #4 of 26

Years of work and it took Google months to cobble together a copy.  Apple should have just waited for Rubin to come up with these "inevitable" and "obvious" ideas and then just copy Android.  /s

post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

"including bi-weekly meetings with Jobs himself"

No shit, Sherlock.

In what way is it self-evident and obvious that a SW engineer would have bi-weekly meetings with Steve Jobs that you'd have to respond with "No shit, Sherlock!"?

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post #6 of 26
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Originally Posted by eponymous View Post
 

Years of work and it took Google months to cobble together a copy.  Apple should have just waited for Rubin to come up with these "inevitable" and "obvious" ideas and then just copy Android.  /s

 

Andy "I guess we're not going to ship that phone" Rubin.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #7 of 26
Quote:

Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

 

 

 

Jobs gave him two weeks to come up with something

...

 

Cristie's team created what can be considered the blueprint for modern smartphone operating systems.
 

Apple can innovate on a dime, turning out the blueprint for the modern smartphone operating system in only two weeks!  It took Google longer than that to make Android, which is a stolen OS.

 

Can't innovate my ASS!

post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by eponymous View Post
 

Years of work and it took Google months to cobble together a copy.  Apple should have just waited for Rubin to come up with these "inevitable" and "obvious" ideas and then just copy Android.  /s

Yes, yes and fucking YES!  I cannot understand how these idiots can survive with the kind of logic and thinking they have.

post #9 of 26
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Originally Posted by SudoNym View Post
 

Apple can innovate on a dime, turning out the blueprint for the modern smartphone operating system in only two weeks!  It took Google longer than that to make Android, which is a stolen OS.

 

Can't innovate my ASS!

 

That is sort of a half truth as far as Apple in concerned. The core OS was the result of years of work. I don't want to discredit the insane work that was done, but the underpinnings were there. If you have a solid foundation, it gives you more freedom to do something even better. It's the secret recipe at Apple. Constantly building on their experience.

 

As far as Android goes, I think they had a longer term roadmap that included what eventually became the initial release version of Android. They just accelerated the schedule. They did heavily borrow from iOS though. It's easier to know where you're going if you have someone showing you the way.

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post

That is sort of a half truth as far as Apple in concerned. The core OS was the result of years of work. I don't want to discredit the insane work that was done, but the underpinnings were there. If you have a solid foundation, it gives you more freedom to do something even better. It's the secret recipe at Apple. Constantly building on their experience.

As far as Android goes, I think they had a longer term roadmap that included what eventually became the initial release version of Android. They just accelerated the schedule. They did heavily borrow from iOS though. It's easier to know where you're going if you have someone showing you the way.

1) He's trolling.

2) Their iOS came from Mac OS X which came from NeXTSTEP which was built upon BSD and other open-source code for several decades. It's very impressive. I think DED had written an article on it on his Roughly Drafted site before he joined AI's writing staff.

3) IMO, one of the best results from iOS is Apple having put so much effort into making a more efficient codebase to run on that slower HW that it can then be put back into Mac OS X with wonderful results. Mac OS X was already ahead of every other consumer OS but iOS kept accelerating it. I don't think Mac OS X would be nearly as good today as it would be in some parallel universe where Apple never split its resources from Mac OS X to make iOS.

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post #11 of 26

I had said this in a previous thread - I wonder how the battle would have panned out if Android was released before Jobs unveiled the iPhone.

 

Google would beat their drum and tout how advanced their Blackberry-inspired OS was, everybody would be in awe.

 

Then Jobs unveils the iPhone catching Google (along with everybody else) flatfooted.

 

Android 2.0 would then be a direct copy of the iPhone OS, thereby showing where the inspiration came from.

post #12 of 26

Well, you know, if they had released the Google phone before Apple's, it would have just been another crummy Blackberry. That's what they copied first. Then the stopped and thought about what to do next. Why not something that looks like an iPhone?

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by 65C816 View Post

Yes, yes and fucking YES!  I cannot understand how these idiots can survive with the kind of logic and thinking they have.
Simple, they shit with their mouth and put the head into the toilet bowl and eat those shit afterward
post #14 of 26
Wasn't Christie a designer? A ux guy?
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post #15 of 26
Answer: yes he was. Head of human interface. Makes sense that Jobs would discuss with that group first and not a random software engineer. Weird reporting on this.
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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

1) He's trolling.

I wish he'd stop doing that.
Quote:
2) Their iOS came from Mac OS X which came from NeXTSTEP which was built upon BSD and other open-source code for several decades. It's very impressive. I think DED had written an article on it on his Roughly Drafted site before he joined AI's writing staff.

He wrote many on that topic, here's one that's related, but not the article you had in mind, I think:

http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2012/01/03/the-next-ten-years-of-mac-os-x/

He also did a comparable thing on tablets:
The inside track on Apple's tablet: a history of tablet computing
Quote:
3) IMO, one of the best results from iOS is Apple having put so much effort into making a more efficient codebase to run on that slower HW that it can then be put back into Mac OS X with wonderful results. Mac OS X was already ahead of every other consumer OS but iOS kept accelerating it. I don't think Mac OS X would be nearly as good today as it would be in some parallel universe where Apple never split its resources from Mac OS X to make iOS.

Excellent point. OSX has indeed evolved so much. There's so much refinement and optimisation done, something MS will likely never do, or understand why this is a good thing to do in the first place.
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post #17 of 26
Here's the article without the pay wall:

http://online.wsj.com/news/article_email/SB10001424052702303949704579461783150723874-lMyQjAxMTA0MDIwNTEyNDUyWj

They mocked up the original iPhone using an old G3 to simulate the speed.

This is also another example where Steve asked for innovative ideas from his staff. A lot of people have the notion that Steve himself came up with all the ideas but he acted as co-ordinator and overruled some of them. There are other examples of this with Jobs interacting with a copywriter for the iPad ads and the Mac UI team:

"“Well, what do you want?” Vincent shot back. “You’ve not been able to tell me what you want.”
“I don’t know,” Jobs said. “You have to bring me something new. Nothing you’ve shown me is even close.”
Vincent argued back and suddenly Jobs went ballistic. “He just started screaming at me,” Vincent recalled. Vincent could be volatile himself, and the volleys escalated.
When Vincent shouted, “You’ve got to tell me what you want,” Jobs shot back, “You’ve got to show me some stuff, and I’ll know it when I see it.”"

"He looked at the title bars—the headers that run across the top of windows and documents—that his team of software developers had designed for the original Macintosh and decided he didn’t like them. He forced the developers to do another version, and then another, about twenty iterations in all, insisting on one tiny tweak after another, and when the developers protested that they had better things to do he shouted, “Can you imagine looking at that every day? It’s not just a little thing. It’s something we have to do right.”"

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/14/111114fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all

A lot of the people who came up with the original ideas for the iPhone software and hardware will still be at Apple and they deserve to be credited for their roles. Without Steve, it might be like shooting a movie without a director but all the parts are there to keep making movies.
post #18 of 26
BUT according to Tony Fadell's bio on Nest's website he claims was responsible for the first 3 generations of the iPhone. 1confused.gif
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


"“Well, what do you want?” Vincent shot back. “You’ve not been able to tell me what you want.”
“I don’t know,” Jobs said. “You have to bring me something new. Nothing you’ve shown me is even close.”
Vincent argued back and suddenly Jobs went ballistic. “He just started screaming at me,” Vincent recalled. Vincent could be volatile himself, and the volleys escalated.
When Vincent shouted, “You’ve got to tell me what you want,” Jobs shot back, “You’ve got to show me some stuff, and I’ll know it when I see it.”"

"He looked at the title bars—the headers that run across the top of windows and documents—that his team of software developers had designed for the original Macintosh and decided he didn’t like them. He forced the developers to do another version, and then another, about twenty iterations in all, insisting on one tiny tweak after another, and when the developers protested that they had better things to do he shouted, “Can you imagine looking at that every day? It’s not just a little thing. It’s something we have to do right.”"

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/14/111114fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all

A lot of the people who came up with the original ideas for the iPhone software and hardware will still be at Apple and they deserve to be credited for their roles. Without Steve, it might be like shooting a movie without a director but all the parts are there to keep making movies.

 

You get that from that ( and I agree but Greg Christie didn't write a line of code, and wasn't the only UI guy either - a lot of the really technical stuff happened quietly in people's offices) - but I also worry that there isn't a CEO at Apple shouting at people for not being pixel perfect. Clearly standards have fallen, would Jobs have allowed the shadow buttons in the iOS 7.1?

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post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by asdasd View Post

You get that from that ( and I agree but Greg Christie didn't write a line of code, and wasn't the only UI guy either - a lot of the really technical stuff happened quietly in people's offices) - but I also worry that there isn't a CEO at Apple shouting at people for not being pixel perfect. Clearly standards have fallen, would Jobs have allowed the shadow buttons in the iOS 7.1?
Jobs is dead. People need to quit asking what he would/wouldn't do. And stop re-writing history to make it look like everything done on his watch was perfect. Quite honestly I don't care if something is pixel perfect if it's ugly and I think a lot of iOS 6 & prior was ugly.
post #21 of 26

Actually Google was dropping hints at their new phone that was very Blackberry looking and suddenly switched gears with Eric Schmidt (via the Apple Board) got a look and the iPhone.

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Excellent point. OSX has indeed evolved so much. There's so much refinement and optimisation done, something MS will likely never do, or understand why this is a good thing to do in the first place.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "optimisation"?  MS has been getting steadily more efficient with hardware resource usage, and hardware requirements have actually decreased with every release of Windows since Vista. The latest rumor is that the next update of Windows 8.1 will be designed to run on just 1GB ram and 16 GB of storage. (http://www.pcworld.com/article/2105781/oops-windows-8-1-update-leaked-by-microsoft-itself.html) MS wants to make the full-blown Windows run on tablets instead of making a separate mobile version like Apple did with iOS, so they have to be quite aware of the need for efficiency.


Edited by d4NjvRzf - 3/26/14 at 7:21am
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Excellent point. OSX has indeed evolved so much. There's so much refinement and optimisation done, something MS will likely never do, or understand why this is a good thing to do in the first place.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "optimisation"?

Take the UI for instance. Just look at their implementation of resizing a window. Used to be only the bottom-right corner where you could grab the window and resize it. That changed (with 10.7?) and we now can resize from all corners, as well as just the width or height. And there lies an unnoticed thing: if you grab a window at the horizontal line and not resize it to make the window shorter or taller but instead move the cursor left or right the system is clever enough and lets you move the window. A thing like that might be small, and I agree, yet it is something MS will never understand. Or come up with themselves.

And a (Flash) video stops playing if the window is out of sight? Makes complete sense, yet I don't see this kind of innovation/optimisation from MS.
Quote:
MS has been getting steadily more efficient with hardware resource usage, and hardware requirements have actually decreased with every release of Windows since Vista. The latest rumor is that the next update of Windows 8.1 will be designed to run on just 1GB ram and 16 GB of storage. (http://www.pcworld.com/article/2105781/oops-windows-8-1-update-leaked-by-microsoft-itself.html)

That is indeed a milestone, considering we needed so much more storage for Word documents compared to WP. And we used to max out on RAM as the OS was always RAM hungry. It's good to see MS making efforts in HW requirements, yet 8GB is now ≈ $65 making this a moot point. Isn't 1GB/16GB less than what WP8 requires?
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MS wants to make the full-blown Windows run on tablets

FAIL
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instead of making a separate mobile version like Apple did with iOS, so they have to be quite aware of the need for efficiency.

No, what they need is common sense. Apple used that, and came up with an OS/UI specifically designed for the HW. And that is called efficiency, NOT having 'one product to run on all HW'. Because we all know that doesn't work. Windows Embedded CE anyone?
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post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


And a (Flash) video stops playing if the window is out of sight? Makes complete sense, yet I don't see this kind of innovation/optimisation from MS.

 

I've never seen this on OS X. Lots of people leave Youtube running in the background as a music player. How would you play a Youtube video in the background if this were to happen?

 

Quote:

  Isn't 1GB/16GB less than what WP8 requires?

No, WP8 requires 512 mb RAM, and from what I hear it actually performs quite well on low-end hardware like the Lumia 520. 

 

Quote:
 No, what they need is common sense. Apple used that, and came up with an OS/UI specifically designed for the HW. And that is called efficiency, NOT having 'one product to run on all HW'. Because we all know that doesn't work. Windows Embedded CE anyone?

Windows Embedded CE is probably not the best example of having "one product to run on all HW." Windows CE is specialized for embedded systems (much more so than iOS or Android are) and is distinct from the main Windows NT family. It occupies a completely different market segment from consumer operating systems, a major difference being that Windows CE is designed for real-time applications.


Edited by d4NjvRzf - 3/26/14 at 8:22am
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post
 

I had said this in a previous thread - I wonder how the battle would have panned out if Android was released before Jobs unveiled the iPhone.

 

Google would beat their drum and tout how advanced their Blackberry-inspired OS was, everybody would be in awe.

 

Then Jobs unveils the iPhone catching Google (along with everybody else) flatfooted.

 

Android 2.0 would then be a direct copy of the iPhone OS, thereby showing where the inspiration came from.

 

IMHO this could also play into why they haven't jumped into or enhanced a new category. Assuming of course that rumors are true about cracking the code on TV or even an wearable's. The marketplace has been scrambling to figure out what Apple would do. If Apple did enter these spaces, it would be at a point where they can say/show how no one clearly thought of this direction.

post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by d4NjvRzf View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

And a (Flash) video stops playing if the window is out of sight? Makes complete sense, yet I don't see this kind of innovation/optimisation from MS.
Quote:
  Isn't 1GB/16GB less than what WP8 requires?
No, WP8 requires 512 mb RAM, and from what I hear it actually performs quite well on low-end hardware like the Lumia 520. 
Quote:
 No, what they need is common sense. Apple used that, and came up with an OS/UI specifically designed for the HW. And that is called efficiency, NOT having 'one product to run on all HW'. Because we all know that doesn't work. Windows Embedded CE anyone?
Windows Embedded CE is probably not the best example of having "one product to run on all HW." Windows CE is specialized for embedded systems (much more so than iOS or Android are) and is distinct from the main Windows NT family. It occupies a completely different market segment from consumer operating systems, a major difference being that Windows CE is designed for real-time applications.

The quote doesn't work properly as I'm on a different editor than the one you are using, complete Huddlers fault, and I therefore just reply below your post (it even just skips an entire sentence, I simply blame Huddler)

Ok, stopping the video is not what is happening, but if a video is being blocked by another window OSX is now smart enough to not use any resources for the underlying window. My bad; it doesn't stop playing.

I really like WP8, apart from the clipped text at the edge. It's definitely new, a bit of a shame, for them anyway, that it never got off. Though with MS they always seem to throw more money at the problem and with their persistence they often make something work out in the end.

As for Windows CE, it may have been the wrong example, but the point remains: Bill had this vision of Windows Everywhere, which kinda makes sense, except their implementation is all wrong. They shouldn't try to shoehorn the full Windows onto a tablet. It's a different device, with a different purpose, and works completely different from a mouse/keyboard PC experience.

Like I said; they'll never get it.
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