It’s the second death anniversary of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and to commemorate the occasion, several Apple veterans have revealed details about the stressful run up to the launch of the first iPhone under Jobs.
The recollections are a part of journalist Fred Vogelstein’s upcoming book 'Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War' and Started a Revolution and excerpts of these were published by The New York Times on the eve of Job’s death anniversary. The piece is long and interesting and has tit-bits about how much work went into the device.
The piece starts off with Andy Gringon, the engineer who was responsible for iPhone’s cellular radio. He described the stressful keynote rehearsals, saying he was emotionally exhausted, so much so that he ended up gaining 50 pounds by the end of the event. "It was very dramatic," he said. "It had been drilled into everyone’s head that this was the next big thing to come out of Apple. So you put all these supersmart people with huge egos into very tight, confined quarters, with that kind of pressure, and crazy stuff starts to happen."
Apple wanted a perfect launch, and the scotch helped
During the event at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, the team would continually take shots of scotch that was sneaked into the auditorium in a flask. The whole team tried to calm its nerves down, hoping Jobs’ exhaustive demo would work out fine despite their still-buggy software. He also said that the cellular radio, that had been crashing on and off, had been hard-coded to show five-bars of full strength throughout the presentation.
“When the finale came — and it worked along with everything before it, we all just drained the flask [of scotch]. It was the best demo any of us had ever seen. And the rest of the day turned out to be just a [expletive] for the entire iPhone team. We just spent the entire rest of the day drinking in the city. It was just a mess, but it was great.”
In all, three versions of the original iPhone were created by executives and an engineering team that was still “riding high from their success with the iPod, assumed a phone would be like building a small Mac.” The whole idea behind the prototype was that Jobs needed a device that would allow him to read email in the bathroom! Earliest drafts of the iPhone resembled the iPod, complete with a circular clicker dial and a complete aluminum one. In all, an executive estimates, the effort cost Apple about $150 million.
Another interesting revelation in the piece shows that Apple had actually considered buying Motorola in 2003, before the two collaborated on the ROKR phone. Apple, however, concluded that the acquisition was just too big at that time.
You can read the entire article here.