Former Apple engineer reveals secrets behind Jobs' first iPhone presentation

By on October 5, 2013, 3:00 PM
apple, iphone, steve jobs, iphone presentation

It’s been exactly two years to the day since Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died. He was many things to many people at many different places but to most, he is known for creating the iPhone and jumpstarting a smartphone revolution that has forever changed how we communicate on the go.

Publically, it all started on January 9, 2007, when Jobs unveiled the original iPhone at the Macworld conference in San Francisco. What may have looked like an ordinary 90-minute presentation from Jobs was anything but for those behind the scenes. According to Andy Grignon, a senior engineer with Apple at the time, it was practically a miracle.

Unlike other Silicon Valley companies that host canned onstage product demos, Jobs insisted on performing a live presentation. The problem with that was the iPhone at that time – well, the hundred or so that were in existence – were riddled with bugs. For example, the phone could play a section of audio or video but not an entire clip without crashing. If you sent an e-mail then surfed the web, it would work. Do that step in reverse and it’s likely to crash.

This meant the development team had to come up with what they called the golden path – a series of specific tasks performed in a specific order that would be least likely to cause the phone to malfunction. And to combat the issue of getting a reliable cell signal in a room filled with tech journalists, Jobs had Cingular Wireless (now owned by AT&T) bring in a portable cell tower. With his approval, the phones were then programmed to always show five bars of signal strength regardless of true signal strength.

All of that aside, there was still a huge hurdle to overcome. The original iPhone only had 128MB of memory and because the apps weren’t finished, they were all still big and bloated. That meant the handset often ran out of memory and would have to be restarted to free up the RAM. To get around this limitation, Jobs used multiple iPhones on stage – when one ran low on resources, he’d swap it out while the first was restarted.

Jobs practiced his presentation for five days leading up to the launch and according to Grignon, he rarely saw the CEO make it through the 90-minute set without a glitch. Yet on the one run that mattered the most, Jobs pulled off the presentation without incident in front of the world and the rest, as they say, is history.




User Comments: 24

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2 people like this | Guest said:

Proof that iphones are crap that doesn't work unless you "hold it right".

1 person liked this | ikesmasher said:

Proof that iphones are crap that doesn't work unless you "hold it right".

You are a couple generations behind there.

Not saying im a huge iphone fan, but lol...

3 people like this | p51d007 said:

So, basically, the "saint" of the smartphone world, the tech guru to hundreds of thousands of iPhone sheep, is nothing more than a SALESMAN that will lie like pretty much every other sales guy to pitch a product that really isn't ready for prime time. But, considering the iSheep, they won't care.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

You are a couple generations behind there.

Not saying im a huge iphone fan, but lol...

Well, once you got that bad reputation it sticks with you for a lifetime.

For example, trying to sell me an iPhone, is on a par with being a former porn star, and applying for a job teaching kindergarten....:eek:

Or to resort to the banal humor of TV's "The Office"; "you're holding it wrong"....!~ (reply)... "That's what she said".

Guest said:

Just watching that presentation brought a great reminder of where we'd been with our cell phones prior to the iPhone, especially with all the features we have on Android or iOS that we take for granted now.

Gotta give credit where credit's due...Thanks Apple for reinventing the mobile phone.

4 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Gotta give credit where credit's due...Thanks Apple for reinventing the mobile phone.
Yeah, I give credit every day to the invention of the cell phone. Usually behind some imbecile in traffic using one, and usually with my middle finger.....

Guest said:

"Yeah, I give credit every day to the invention of the cell phone. Usually behind some imbecile in traffic using one, and usually with my middle finger....."

Good one! I can't argue with that. Every dang cell phone comes with a headpiece! Use it!!! Or bluetooth it!

avoidz avoidz said:

Fake it till you make it.

Guest said:

As much as people like to bag on Apple (and despite the fact that they're restrictive as all hell), I do find that iOS has been fantastic from a design point of view. Everything generally feels like it's right where it should be, most features are accounted for, and the default apps perform their tasks well.

Are things lacking, or does the closed ecosystem stymie innovation? Oh, absolutely. But at the same time, I look back fondly on using an iPhone 4S. Moving to Android on a Galaxy S III (Wind Mobile, basically T-Mo) has actually been a bit of a grating experience. Some default applications (Music / Video playback, mail, the browser) were pretty underwhelming, and the replacements I found still haven't quite made their way into where the 4S used to be. Not to mention the (admittedly now minor) hassle of gapless playback.

And though some may champion the Android device as the open platform for tinkerers, that's kind of a moot point when there are always little problems here and there; and I just don't feel like I should need to risk freezing / camera bugs / random SD card wiping to get the phone to perform tasks in a generally "acceptable" way.

Guest said:

This news is not about the iphone...

its about the greatest trick steve jobs ever pulled

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I had an 02 Mini smartphone and a Samsung SGH-i710 smartphone all before the iPhone came out. The iPhone was better but not as much as people hyped it to be. Just a progression really. They're over-priced and over-hyped. No big deal, but the Jobs-is-a-genius / idol worship really sickens me.

avoidz avoidz said:

It's like the ending of The Usual Suspects.

WithoutAnyMilk WithoutAnyMilk said:

It's like the ending of The Usual Suspects.

I love this analogy! You're definitely spot on there - but wouldn't that mean that Steve Jobs is Keyser Soze? o.O

dennis777 dennis777 said:

Its like magic being revealed...

JC713 JC713 said:

Werent all smartphones riddled with glitches and bugs back in 2007? Android was also in its early stages.

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Werent all smartphones riddled with glitches and bugs back in 2007? Android was also in its early stages.

You have no idea.... !

But wait! There's more.....: [link]

1 person liked this | Emexrulsier said:

Im no Apple fan buy but faked tech demos is the norm, with Google doing it doing their Google Now presentation, Microsoft did it when showing off the surface, Blackberry did it showing of their latest rim software, Nokia did it during their Ngage release. It not just Apple.

The plane and simple truth is too many companies whilst making great hardware/software want to release it fast to the market to maximise profits and worry about correcting minor (and in some cases major) issues/bugs in later os patches or new hardware releases.

Ofc far too many fanboys or specific hardware haters fail to see the truth and ofc believe the item they use be it Android, WP etc is the best thing since sliced bread and contains no issues and is full of unique concept ideas that came to the market first from true world class leaders in innovations that is years ahead of the competition!

Emexrulsier said:

Excuse the typos and lack of edit function on techspot

mailpup mailpup said:

What lack of edit function? Go to "Jump to forum mode" toward the bottom of the comments and edit your comment from the forum side.

1 person liked this | GeforcerFX GeforcerFX said:

Well I will just fix one small issue,the first commercially successful smartphone was invented by Jeff Hawkins, Donna Dubinsky, and Ed Colligan while they ran handspring (later bought by Palm the other company they made), not Steve jobs and apple. The biggest contribution they made was making the devices smaller for once. The first treos were released in 2002, 5 years before Apple and 1 year before black berry. The Treo line remained the 2nd most common smartphone barely behind RIM till 2009 (by then iphone was established and the first androids were popping up), apple marketing is the true hero for the smartphone revolution they made millions of people worldwide think they really needed a smatphone and that they really needed to triple there wireless bill just to be able to tweet to all your friends about your day at any point in time.

Guest said:

I remember the Wall Street Journal ran a story about Apple and the iPhone a day or so before the original unit actually hit the streets. They interviewed a lot of executives from other cellphone companies about the impact they thought the iPhone would have and the overwhelming response was "not much".

I remember thinking at the time "You have no idea what is about to happen. Apple is going to roll over you" The world did not understand that Jobs and Apple were great at technology, but the best in the world at building a huge demand for their technology. They didn't use focus groups and market research, they built what they liked and then rolled over the competition.

I wonder how many of those executives had their JOBS a year or so later?

In life, it's important to know when the train is about to roll over you. Whether you love or hate Apple, you have to respect the way they've driven the markets they compete in.

Guest said:

And thus the inventor and greatest con artist created the iFauxmercial! ......and then he somehow took all the Smartphone Industry Leaders Standards and their own hardware parts that were Magically assembled them (not even in their own Chinese factories) into iFauxphones right before our very eyes! ;-P

btw.... hard to believe they actually got away with this fantasy presentation. But perhaps the greatest genius of Apple is their use of their brainwashed fanatical fans in spreading the FUD!

1. That they had the first touchscreen smartphone number one. Arguably the IBM Simon was the first!

2. That they made that touchscreen in the first place w/ the first Capacitive screen on a phone. This is perhaps the biggest lie. Since LG was supplying them with the same screen they'd introduced on the LG Prada in 2006!

3. That it was powered by their own Apple branded chip. Which was actually the same chip in the Samsung F700 patented 2 months before the iPhone was introduced complete w/ rounded corners, icons arranged on a 3.5" touchscreen and a single physical Home button at the bottom.

4. That they invented Round Home Button in the first place with it's media Stop Icon. When actually Samsung had a premium multimedia 3.5" touchscreen smartphone introduced a whole year prior to it with...... yes a Round Physical Home/Play Multimedia Button under it's screen on the SGH-Z610 with a Play Icon on it!

5. But what's really hard to imagine is that they also claimed the first gesture based Smartphone OS. Which was also actually the what the SGH-Z610 was famous for. Which they were inspired by a feature phone that used it w/ the first unlock gesture, that only Apple stole!

6. How in the World they ever got away with calling iPhone a First..... Revolutionary Smartphone w/o 3G is beyond me. Because the SGH-Z610 was also 3G capable a year before iPhone!

7. It's beyond believe that the iPhone didn't even have a real GPS. Which yes.... the SGH-Z610 also had!

8. Now when you supposedly are launching a miracle device, you'd think it would not only have a camera, but two cameras, one for video chat, yes.... like the Samsung SGH-Z610 had four years before iPhone 5 had two!

So the reality of this iFauxphone is it was barely a phone in the first place based on it's competitors R&D investments Apple had no part of!!! ......and perhaps the biggest mistake Google made was giving them the edge in apps with Google Maps in the first place. They made it seem as if they'd invented that too!

So just what did Apple bring to the iPhone that hadn't been done before? A child proof OS still in beta till they added an App store that wasn't a first either, because every Carrier had one already and Apple just simple brought their re-invented Garden Walled AOL Hell UI Network for a phone!!! Original? .....nothing about the iPhone was original in any way. It was simply all a Magical Demonstration of stolen ideas that worked and their religious fanatical fans did all the FUD marketing for them!!!

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Excuse the typos and lack of edit function on techspot

...[ ]....The plane and simple truth is too many companies....[ ].....
I see what you mean about the typos..:p "Plainly", there's one homophone that came back to bite you in the a**

Guest said:

The "trick" he pulled was on the poor fans who paid through their noses to buy it.

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