The New York Times has published a lengthy feature on the creation of the original iPhone that includes plenty of interesting details from veterans who worked on the project.
Plenty of ink has been spilled on exactly how much work went into the device, but the Times’ piece really digs into the personal struggles and triumphs involved in the project. It’s a fascinating read that’s worth saving for later if you can’t read all of it right now.
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Andy Grignon, the engineer responsible for the iPhone’s cellular radios, goes into particular detail on how stressful the rehearsals for the keynote were:
But it quickly got really uncomfortable. Very rarely did I see [Jobs] become completely unglued — it happened, but mostly he just looked at you and very directly said in a very loud and stern voice, ‘You are [expletive] up my company,’ or, ‘If we fail, it will be because of you.’
Other interesting details include Apple modifying an Airport base station to broadcast Japanese wireless frequencies during the keynote, an all-aluminum design from Jobs and Jony Ive that had terrible reception, Jon Rubinstein’s pitch for an iPhone mini that functioned like a feature phone, and the use of fake schematics and designs for vendors.
My personal favorite: during the keynote, the iPhone team passed around a flask of scotch, taking shots after each of their demos. By the end of the presentation, many of them were drunk.