comscore Apple engineer reveals what it was like to be part of the team behind the first iPhone
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Apple engineer reveals what it was like to be part of the team behind the first iPhone

In 2017, the company celebrates the 10th anniversary of its iconic iPhone.

Apple iPhone-original

Apple is known for keeping its projects under cover for the longest time possible and its first smartphone, which revolutionized the mobile phone industry, had been no exception. For its first self-branded smartphone launched nine years ago, Apple wanted nothing but the best. Apple engineer Terry Lambert has revealed his experience of working on Project Purple the first iPhone. Also Read - Friendship Day gifting ideas for your young tech-savvy besties under Rs 5,000

Also Read - Apple releases important iOS 14.7.1 update: iPhone users must download it right now

Steve Jobs entrusted the task of forming a team of the best and ambitious engineers for the first iPhone to Scott Forstall who had been overseeing the development of OS X. Jobs and Forstall shared such a strong professional relationship that the only constraint Jobs gave him that he couldn t hire anyone from outside the company. As is the tradition with the Cupertino, California-based company, the development of the iPhone had also been a very closely guarded secret. Also Read - iPhone SE gets cheaper on Flipkart only for today: Get over Rs 11,000 flat discount

With extremely strict workplace policies and guidelines, for the iPhone being the first major consumer product from the company the level of secrecy equalled to those of a highly confidential national document and evidently, the kind of hard work and person hours that went into shaping the iPhone and the iOS as we know today also surpassed the normal. ALSO READ: Apple has sold 1 billion iPhones since 2007

In a patent lawsuit with Samsung in 2012, an interrogation of Forstall revealed interesting details about how Apple developed the iPhone under absolute secrecy, so much so, that Forstall didn t even tell prospective team members what they would be working on. Instead, what he would tell engineers is that the company was working on an incredible new product and that if they were willing to join the team, they would have to work hard, give up nights, and work weekends for years.

The high security around the iPhone doesn t end there. As Forstall revealed a few years back, the Project Purple team took one of Apple s Cupertino buildings and locked it down. It started with a single floor with badge readers and cameras. In some cases, even workers on the team would have to show their badges five or six times.

In his post on Quora, Lambert recalls his experience on working with the Project Purple team. He reveals how he once was taken to an area where there were black cloths everywhere. Black cloths are how Apple covers its secret project and in Lambert s words, You pretend not to see them, it s a kind of wilful ignorance. Once he finally got the read in, he had to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement or NDA to see the NDA that had the code name on it to further get access to the secret lab. And one couldn t see the code name till they agree not to discuss the code name. Even the engineers working on the project would be given different code names so that even within themselves they wouldn t know what they were working on. After the read in, there s another lab inside the main lab. You may have access to the regular lab, but not the secret lab . You didn t really get to see the form factor, because when you are doing the initial work, it s all prototypes on plexiglass, Lambert explains.

Apple might have been able to closely guard the original iPhone before its public launch, well, sort of, but a decade later, it seems none of its projects remain shrouded in the mysterious black cloak anymore. In 2017, the company will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its iconic iPhone and thanks to the tremendous leaks about its design and specifications, there is little left to awe about when the smartphone actually launches. ALSO READ: Former Apple designer reveals what it was like to create apps for the first iPhone

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  • Published Date: December 27, 2016 6:47 PM IST



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