In February 2005, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs gave senior software engineer Greg Christie an ultimatum to finalize the software for the upcoming iPhone or the project would go to another Apple team. Mr. Christie joined Apple in 1996 to work on the Newton and the iPhone project was important to him. The iPhone project was at that stage called project "Purple." Mr. Christie has never publicly discussed the early development of the iPhone before. Yet Apple made him available on the eve of a new patent-infringement trial against Samsung to highlight a key element of its legal strategy—just how innovative the iPhone was in 2007, when it arrived.
Apple's Christie looking back at that pivotal moment in time stated that "Steve had pretty much had it; He wanted bigger ideas and bigger concepts," for the iPhone.
Mr. Christie's team devised many iPhone features, such as swiping to unlock the phone, placing calls from the address book, and a touch-based music player. The iPhone ditched the keyboard then common on advanced phones for a display that covered the device's entire surface, and it ran software that more closely resembled personal-computer programs.
Since then, Apple has sold more than 470 million iPhones. The phone is now the subject of patent disputes around the world between Apple and Samsung, the two biggest and most profitable smartphone makers. Apple contends that Samsung copied its designs and software features, while Samsung argues that many iPhone and iPad innovations aren't exclusive to Apple.
In an earlier trial in U.S. district court in San Jose, Calif., juries ordered Samsung to pay Apple $930 million for infringing other Apple patents. Samsung is appealing the decision.
The next round starts Monday. Apple claims Samsung infringed on five more of its patents, including the "slide to unlock" feature for which Mr. Christie is listed as an inventor. Samsung counters that Apple has violated two of its patents. The damages could be larger than those awarded in the earlier trial, because this case covers features in more recent phones that sold in greater volume.
So was his demand for secrecy. Mr. Jobs ordered employees working on the project at home to use a computer in a secluded part of the house to prevent anyone from accidentally seeing details. He also demanded that employees encrypt digital images of the device.
The green light in early 2005 was the start of what Mr. Christie called a "2½- year marathon." It involved rethinking every part of the phone from how to check voice mail to how to display a calendar. Mr. Jobs obsessed over every detail.
For more on this see the Wall Street Journal's report titled "Apple Engineer Recalls the iPhone's Birth."
In respect to Apple's legal battles with Samsung we posted a report yesterday titled "In Tokyo, Samsung Legal Loses Infringement Case against Apple." For more photos of Steve Jobs introducing the original 2007 iPhone, click here.