A New York Times piece about the birth of the original iPhone has revealed some pretty interesting tidbits about the transformative smartphone.
For one thing, it didn't work. And for another, making it almost drove Apple into the ground.
According to one senior exec, the development cost of the device was more than $150 million, and sucked engineers and staff into the project at the expense of everything else on Apple's agenda.
Andy Grignon, a senior engineer on the phone's radio systems, said that he gained 50 pounds during development and was exhausted by the effort.
"It had been drilled into everyone's head that this was the next big thing to come out of Apple. So you put all these supersmart people with huge egos into very tight, confined quarters, with that kind of pressure, and crazy stuff starts to happen."
He also said that on the day of the announcement, the phone was almost too buggy to unveil. Grignon said he and his colleagues were drinking from a flask hoping that the demo would hold together.
The piece says that only 100 iPhones had been built by that point, many with huge projects or failures. "Some had noticeable gaps between the screen and the plastic edge; others had scuff marks on the screen. And the software that ran the phone was full of bugs," the Times piece says.
"It worked fine if you sent an e-mail and then surfed the Web. If you did those things in reverse, however, it might not. Hours of trial and error had helped the iPhone team develop what engineers called "the golden path," a specific set of tasks, performed in a specific way and order, that made the phone look as if it worked."
Then Steve Jobs went onstage, and did this: