“This is a day I have been looking forward to for two and a half years.”
Those were the iconic words of the late Steve Jobs at the global unveiling of the original iPhone in 2007. Arguably one of the first true smartphones and definitely the turning point of the mobile industry, the iPhone is the prime example of a product that revolutionized an industry.
But who knew the original iPhones at Jobs’ January 2007 product demo at the Macworld Conference and Expo was severely buggy, barely worked and even had the tendency to shut itself down?
This, and more, was revealed in a New York Times piece by Fred Vogelstein at the weekend. Speaking to Andy Grignon, one of the most senior engineers who worked on the original iPhone, it was revealed that during the device’s global unveiling there were only about 100 iPhones in existence at that point, and “all of them of varying quality”. The phone was six months away from going on sale, and there wasn’t even a production line set up to manufacture them.
The iPhone could play a section of a song or a video, but it couldn’t play an entire clip reliably without crashing. It worked fine if you sent an e-mail and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called “the golden path,” a specific set of tasks, performed in a specific way and order, that made the phone look as if it worked.
Rehearsals constantly ran into bugs on the iPhone such as dropping network or WiFi connectivity, and the phone even required a reboot if it was made to handle too many tasks. Tensions were high, with Jobs telling Grignon that ‘if we fail, it will be because of you (Grignon).’
Ultimately, this happened:
And the rest, as they say, is history.