The iPhone is frequently regarded as the apex of contemporary consumer electronics. It dominates contemporary markets after supplanting MP3 players, cameras, and Palm Pilots with a single handheld wonder. But there’s more to this device’s narrative than meets the eye at first. The first smartphone wasn’t the iPhone. It is supported by numerous other inventions, including as touch-screen technology, speech recognition software, and phones.
The millions of laborers who toil worldwide in horrible South American mines and Chinese megafactories are also unsung heroes in the book, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant, in addition to the innovators who cleared the path for the iPhone.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past ten years, you are aware of how successful the iPhone has been. In fact, it’s so popular that in 2016, when technology industry analyst Horace Dediu compiled a list of the finest products, he included the iPhone as the best-selling camera, music player, computer, and phone as well. One billion units of the phone have been sold. To put it into perspective, the mega-popular Harry Potter series sold 550 million more units.
Not only that, but the iPhone also ranked highly on analysts’ lists of the world’s most profitable goods when they compiled their findings. It was even ranked one spot higher than Marlboro cigarettes, one of the major producers of one of the most addictive goods in the world.
The iPhone is therefore absurdly popular. Yet why? The majority of people credit Steve Jobs, who is frequently given entire credit for its development, with its success. But the true origins of the iPhone can be traced back to a tiny team of Apple employees who were covertly testing human-computer interfaces in the early 2000s.
The group was made up of a few software designers, input engineers, and an industrial designer who got together to test out novel user interfaces without telling Job. Joshua Strickon, who had just gotten his PhD from the MIT Media Lab, was one of them. He was an expert in software for touch-based technologies and human-computer interaction.
The field’s original pioneers, such Greg Christie, leader of the Human Interface team and a key player in Apple’s handheld mobile gadget, the Personal Digital Assistant, worked alongside Strickon. Imran Chaudhri and Bas Ording, two designers, were also essential members of the group. They were referred to as “the Lennon and McCartney of user interface design” by a member of the initial iPhone development team.
The general consensus was that the conventional keyboard and mouse were obsolete. So they set out to make it possible for people to engage with computers more directly, and they specifically looked into motion sensors and multitouch technologies.
They created the initial, extremely basic prototype of what would eventually become the iPhone after months of experimentation. They most certainly weren’t the first to explore such technology, though. You might be shocked to learn that the original iPhone predecessor is rather old—more than a century old, to be precise.
Swedish inventor Lars Magnus Ericsson, who subsequently formed the digital behemoth Ericsson, created the first mobile phone in 1910. To be fair, this mobile device was a car phone, which required a wire connection to telephone lines in order to operate.
However, it encouraged the development of a more transportable gadget in 1917. Eric Tigerstedt, a Finnish inventor, created the second version, which was indeed wireless. It was a flip phone with some contemporary mobile phone characteristics and a slim, simplistic design.
However, despite these early inventions, mobile phones didn’t become popular until the 1980s, and the first “smartphone” wasn’t created until the 1990s. That’s true, the Simon Personal Communicator, or the Simon for short, was created by Frank Canova Jr., an engineer at IBM at the time. It was the very first cell phone with a computer.
The product’s applications and touchscreen, which gave it the “smart” label, were where the real innovation resided. Actually, Canova’s original intention was to include a wide range of apps, including GPS and a stock ticker. He even created some of them, but ultimately the device’s hard disk couldn’t accommodate all of them. The phone was already the size of a brick with the few apps and games it came with.
The lack of available technology made it difficult to create a widely used smartphone, and the problem of size also explains why the Neon, the Simon’s replacement, was never ever released. However, two decades later, the creators of the iPhone drew heavily on these earlier inventions as inspiration.
The iPhone’s battery life is among its most impressive features. It’s interesting to note that the technology that underlies this super battery has an intriguing history. It dates back to the 1970s oil crisis, when prices were skyrocketing, the public was anxious, and experts all across the world pondered whether there may be a method to lessen dependence on oil.
Research into alternative energy has increased as a result of this worry. For instance, Stan Whittingham, a bright scientist from Stanford University, was hired by Exxon to research alternative energy sources. His work also pioneered new fields. The most popular batteries at the time were constructed of zinc and carbon. A lithium-based battery was recently created by Panasonic, however it couldn’t be recharged.
We can credit academics like Whittingham and the excellent physicist John Goodenough for the lithium battery in the iPhone that is rechargeable today. This is how it goes. When a battery is utilized, electrical current in the form of electrons moves from one electrode, the anode, to another, the cathode, through an electrolyte. An energy source, such as a wall outlet, reverses the flow of current if the battery can be recharged. In essence, it makes the battery reusable by causing energy to go back to its source.
Whittingham, however, was having trouble in his early experiments because his batteries kept overheating and catching fire. Fortunately, John Goodenough found a solution. Goodenough used cobalt oxide in his lithium battery, as opposed to Whittingham who used titanium. This chemical mixture produced a more reliable battery that is still commonly used in many types of electronics, including the iPhone.
In fact, the market for lithium-ion batteries was worth $30 billion in 2015, and by 2024, it is anticipated to reach a staggering $77 billion. The opening of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the largest lithium-ion battery plant in the world, is one indication of the growing interest in electric automobiles, which is largely to blame for this astronomically high predicted growth.
Did you know that the so-called “dumb” Nokia phones sold in 2007 featured a camera that was superior to the first iPhone’s? It’s accurate and astonishing to learn that the iPhone’s first camera only featured two megapixels, as opposed to the iPhone 6’s eight megapixels.
What’s more intriguing is that Apple didn’t view a camera as a necessary feature when it first considered including one. In today’s world, the camera is not only extremely important but also extremely complicated. Today’s iPhone cameras contain more than 200 components and are regarded as essential. A sensor, an image stabilization module, and an image signal processor are all included.
And that’s just the camera on one side of the phone; the front of the device also has a selfie camera or FaceTime camera. Overall, Apple’s technology is so intricate that it has a separate camera section with 800 staff members, all of whom are dedicated to enhancing the iPhone camera.
What’s up with this selfie camera, then? Although selfies have really been present for more than a century, the iPhone selfie camera was largely responsible for their current level of popularity. The history of the selfie is provided here. Robert Cornelius took his own portrait in 1839. Technically speaking, it was a daguerreotype, a pre-photographic method of creating an image. He must have spent at least ten minutes creating his selfie because the camera he was using was so slow.
Then, in 1914, Anastasia Nikolaevna, a young Russian duchess, took a picture of herself in a mirror. One of the first well-known selfies was created when she later shared the picture with her pals. However, the term “selfie” didn’t become widely used until the iPhone’s selfie camera was introduced in 2010. By making it much simpler to capture your own photos, this straightforward feature changed culture.
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