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Apple talks about designing the touchscreen for iPhone

The first iPhone prototype display was as big as a ping pong table.

2 minutes & 33 seconds read time

Can you believe it has been nearly 10 years since the original iPhone was released? I can, as I got my hands-on one here in Australia, which at the time was incredibly expensive and a huge process to do. The years before worldwide distribution of the iPhone, where it was limited as hell, and half the apps didn't work for me, including MMS.

Apple talks about designing the touchscreen for iPhone |

Now we have The Wall Street Journal sharing a video that has three of Apple's former executives talking about the first days of designing the iPhone with Steve Jobs, with Scott Forstall, Tony Fadell, and Greg Christie taking to screen. Fadell was the Senior VP of the iPod division, where he talked of a time when Jobs introduced the executives the first demo of what would eventually turn into the touch-based iOS for the original iPhone.

Jobs and his team were prototyping different ways to usher in a new smartphone interface, with the first being the iPod click wheel interface which ended up turning into something truly revolutionary. Fadell was invited into a demo room to try out a new interface by Jobs, with Fadell recounting: "Steve goes, "Come over here I need to show you something." So he walked me into the room...and it was basically like a ping pong table sized demo with a projector that was projecting a Mac interface on it. And you could use your whole hand and you could touch different things on it, like it was a big big Mac".

"It was literally a ping pong sized multi-touch display. And he goes, "I think this is gonna solve our problem", he continued.

Scott Forstall was the former VP of iOS, and recalled of a time in 2006 when the iPhone team had just two weeks left on their deadline to provide a better design for the iPhone UI. Jobs wasn't happy with what the team had made in its first few iterations, telling Forstall that he and his team would lose the project to another team if they failed to impress.

Greg Christie, the former VP of Human Interface for Apple said that the UI design team impressed Jobs with their crunch work, leading to two more years of work ahead of the 2007 release of the original iPhone. Christie continued: "The first time he saw it he was completely silent, he didn't say a thing. He didn't say anything, he didn't gesture, he didn't ask a question. Then he sat back and he said, "Show it to me again." And so we go through the whole thing again and Steve was pretty much blown away by the whole demonstration. It was great work".

"Our reward for doing a great job on that demonstration was to, you know, kill ourselves over the next two and a half years", he continued.

It was sometime in 2006 that Forstall halted the entire development team for the iPhone UI, pushing the team to fix the horrible on-screen keyboard at the time. In 2006, Forstall said the on-screen keyboard was so hard to use that if someone tried to type an e-mail on it, they would just "give up". He continued, adding that a developer had showed him one of the best keyboards he'd seen.

This new keyboard had word predictions, so if someone tapped 'T' the keyboard would enlarge the space where the 'H' key is, making common words easier to type.


Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering.

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