Making of iPhone

Excellent read – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/magazine/and-then-steve-said-let-there-be-an-iphone.html?hpw&_r=0

Excerpts:

“It felt like we’d gone through the demo a hundred times, and each time something went wrong,” Grignon says. “It wasn’t a good feeling.”

….

But even when Jobs stayed on the golden path, all manner of last-minute workarounds were required to make the iPhone functional. On announcement day, the software that ran Grignon’s radios still had bugs. So, too, did the software that managed the iPhone’s memory. And no one knew whether the extra electronics Jobs demanded the demo phones include would make these problems worse.

….

One person who worked on the project thinks Apple then made six fully working prototypes of the device it ultimately sold — each with its own set of hardware, software and design tweaks. Some on the team ended up so burned out that they left the company shortly after the first phone hit store shelves. “It was like the first moon mission,”

….

Jobs wanted the iPhone to run a modified version of OS X, the software that comes with every Mac. But no one had ever put a gigantic program like OS X on a phone chip before. The software would have to be a tenth its usual size. Millions of lines of code would have to be stripped out or rewritten, and engineers would have to simulate chip speed and battery drain because actual chips weren’t available until 2006.

….

As early as 2003, a handful of Apple engineers had figured out how to put multitouch technology in a tablet. “The story was that Steve wanted a device that he could use to read e-mail while on the toilet — that was the extent of the product spec,”

….

“I and Rubén Caballero” — Apple’s antenna expert — “had to go up to the boardroom and explain to Steve and Ive that you cannot put radio waves through metal,” says Phil Kearney, an engineer who left Apple in 2008. “And it was not an easy explanation. Most of the designers are artists. The last science class they took was in eighth grade. But they have a lot of power at Apple. So they ask, ‘Why can’t we just make a little seam for the radio waves to escape through?’ And you have to explain to them why you just can’t.”

….

Big companies like Marvell, which made the Wi-Fi radio chip, and CSR, which provided the Bluetooth radio chip, hadn’t been told they were going to be in a new phone. They thought they were going to be in a new iPod. “We actually had fake schematics and fake industrial designs,”

The security surrounding Ive’s prototypes was so tight that some employees believed the badge reader called security if you tried to enter and weren’t authorized.

….

The pressure to meet Jobs’s deadlines was so intense that normal discussions quickly devolved into shouting matches. Exhausted engineers quit their jobs — then came back to work a few days later once they had slept a little.

….

By the end, Grignon wasn’t just relieved; he was drunk. He’d brought a flask of Scotch to calm his nerves. “And so there we were in the fifth row or something — engineers, managers, all of us — doing shots of Scotch after every segment of the demo. There were about five or six of us, and after each piece of the demo, the person who was responsible for that portion did a shot.

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