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Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 06:57 pm PT (09:57 pm ET)

Apple software engineer details development of original iPhone

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie offers a detailed look at the development process that culminated in the first iPhone.

iPhone

Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs presenting the original iPhone in 2007.


Christie tells the tale of how an ultimatum from late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs pushed the engineer and his team to create what would become the first iPhone, the WSJ reports.

According to Christie, his team had been working on a "software vision" for the handheld when Jobs gave him two weeks to come up with something before the project was assigned to another group. What the engineering team developed would later become iPhone OS and ultimately the current iOS.

Along with "swipe to unlock," touch-based inputs and gestures, Christie's team created what can be considered the blueprint for modern smartphone operating systems.

At least some of the ideas came from Christie's work with the Newton PDA team, which the engineer was part of after joining Apple in 1996. The engineer was offered the chance to work on the iPhone project in 2004 by former executive Scott Forstall, who at the time said Apple was developing a phone/media player hybrid with touch capabilities.

After months of highly secret work on "project purple," including bi-weekly meetings with Jobs himself, Christie and his "shockingly small" team came up with a solution worthy of approval. The idea had to be pitched first to Jobs, then to Apple board director Bill Campbell and finally to Jony Ive.

Jobs became increasingly excited about the iPhone's software possibilities, Christie said, and began to add his own narrative with each successive presentation.

"His excitement for it was boundless," said Christie.

The article goes on to detail the steps all employees working on the project had to take to keep the device secret. Jobs reportedly told work could only be done in a secluded area of an employee's house and all images of the phone had to be encrypted.

The story comes ahead of the scheduled start date for Apple's second California patent trial against Samsung. Much of the litigation revolves around software patents Christie himself had at least some hand in creating.