It Just Works: How the First iPhone Almost Didn’t
It’s been more than six years since Apple decided to shake up the world of mobile telephony and pocket computing, and that means it’s a good time to reflect on how this major revolution almost didn’t happen. Indeed, Apple’s first iPhone was barely even finished with the design process by the time it took center stage.
Pathways and Problems: How it All Worked Out
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, several designers who worked on the initial iPhone’s hardware and software confessed that the device was seriously troubled during its debut. The phone’s radio, responsible for catching cell phone signals, repeatedly crashed. It could not perform a sequence of common tasks without rebooting. Even the phone’s wireless Internet connection was troubled.
To respond to these problems in time for the keynote, Apple designers established a crash-free “pathway” between apps that would not force a reboot of the phone. The device was programmed to always show full Internet and cellular reception, and several backup devices were kept on stage just in case something went horribly wrong.
Luckily, it went off without a hitch and the rest is history. The iPhone to this day remains an icon of both cool gadgetry and stunning design, with a legacy that is best summed up as globally transformative.