On June 29, 2007, Steve Jobs turned the tech world upside down with the release of the groundbreaking iPhone. Ten years later, more than one billion iPhones have been sold—making it the most popular product of all time.
The disruptive device changed how we communicate, do business, exercise, travel, shop and even watch TV.
In his book The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, Motherboard editor Brian Merchant takes readers on an epic journey through the iPhone’s never-before-told history. As part of his research, Merchant traveled to every inhabited continent, took 8,000 photos, recorded 200 hours of interviews, tapped out hundreds of Notes and had dozens of FaceTime sessions with his family back home.
Merchant’s biography of the iPhone includes interviews with key members of the original team behind the device—the chip designer who made iPhone’s brain possible and the unheralded software designers who shaped the iPhone’s look and feel—and peeks into the darker side of overseas manufacturing, child labor and suicide pacts.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, we combed through The One Device to find 10 of the most interesting facts you might not know about the life-changing device you use every day.
1. The iPhone, which accounts for 2/3 of Apple’s revenue according to a 2014 Wall Street analysis, is the world’s most profitable product, just above Marlboro cigarettes.
2. When developing the iPhone, one of Steve Jobs’ top priorities was simply to not drop calls.
3. The remarkable glass screen is made by CorningWare, which also makes those white, indestructible-looking casserole dishes you’ve probably seen at Thanksgiving.
4. Thanks to iPhone’s front-facing camera, the term “selfie” has joined modern lexicon. But the first documented selfie was taken over 100 years ago when 13-year-old Russian duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna snapped a picture of herself in a mirror in 1914.
5. Rotating your iPhone from portrait to landscape is made possible by the accelerometer, a device first used in the 1920s to test the safety of aircraft and bridges.
6. When the iPhone was first released, all apps came preloaded and Steve Jobs was opposed to anyone outside Apple designing apps. He eventually reversed his decision. One of the most successful (and funny) early non-Apple apps was a flatulence-like sound maker called iFart which earned its creator, Infomedia, more than a million dollars.
7. The most recent iPhone 7 has 3.3 billion transistors, meaning that the last app you downloaded has more computing power than the first moon mission.
8. The Google Maps app didn’t originate from Google. The company bought it from two Australian brothers who had created a company called Where2.
9. Siri, which means “beautiful victorious counselor” in Norwegian, was the name chosen for Apple’s artificially intelligent assistant because of its positive, non-offensive connotations in all languages. The voice of Siri is a 60-year-old woman named Susan Bennett, who lives in the Atlanta suburbs.
10. When the designers at Apple were creating the first iPhone, they were not allowed to talk about what they were working on with anyone outside of the company, and for two-and-a-half years they could not take vacations, holidays or weekends off.
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