The iPhone was born because Steve Jobs hated some guy at Microsoft
Some of humanity’s greatest achievements were borne of noble causes. Take the Taj Mahal, for example, which was commissioned by Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favourite wife – a sentence that’s significantly more romantic if you remove the word “favourite”.
The iPhone, according to Apple’s former senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall, has a history that’s considerably more spiteful. But quite entertaining all the same.
“It began because Steve hated this guy at Microsoft,” explained Forstall in an interview at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. The employee remained unnamed, but it wasn’t Bill Gates (“he was starting to like Bill at this point”) – this was the husband of one of Laurene Powell Jobs’ friends, and as such someone Steve Jobs ended up spending a lot of time with socially. “Anytime he had any kind of social interaction with that guy, he’d come back pissed off,” explained Forstall.
Apparently it was the Microsoft employee crowing over the upcoming Tablet PC that set Jobs off in his desire to come up with a touchscreen portable computer.
After a “set of expletives,” Jobs briefed his team on their new rival. “Let’s show them how it’s really done – first thing is, they’re idiots. You don’t use a stylus,” Job is quoted as saying, adding that the finger is better because it’s easier to lose a stylus than a finger, which is hard to argue with.
Early prototypes had more in common with a table than the iPhone (“wouldn’t fit in your bathroom, much less your pocket”), but the engineers kept on noodling away at the capacitive multi touch display until 2004, when Jobs had the idea to shrink it down into a phone. According to Forstall, inspiration struck in a coffee shop where Jobs noticed lots of people carrying phones, but none of them seeming to enjoy the experience. And thus, Project Purple was born and in 2007 the iPhone was born and changed the world.
Forstall himself claims he had “no right” to be lead a team working on a phone. “The first text I ever sent was on the iPhone, because texting like everything else was horrid” he explained.
You can see the full interview with Scott Forstall below. It starts around one hour, seven minutes. The section on the iPhone begins at 1:29:51.
If you want a story that shows Jobs in a better light, go to 1:46:50 where Forstall credits Jobs with saving his life. Oh, and it turns out that Steve Jobs used to scam the company out of free lunches too.