The iPhone Started Off As An Ugly Thing
March 13, 2013

The iPhone Started Off As An Ugly Thing

Jacqui Cheng and Ars Technica have released some exclusive photographs of what’s called an early iPhone prototype from 2005, two years before the first iPhone was released.

I say it’s “called” an early iPhone prototype because, unlike the prototypes we saw last summer as an extension of the Apple v Samsung blockbuster trial, the thing in the pictures looks more like an iPad than an iPhone.

It’s well known around the Apple-sphere that the company began work on the iPad before deciding the technology would work best as a phone first. We also found out from the testimonies given during last year’s trial that Jony Ive, Steve Jobs and crew first began work on the iPad somewhere around 2002 and 2004.

Which is all to say, this device looks as if it was built somewhere in between when they decided to go from pad to phone.

Ars Technica scored these pictures from an unnamed former Apple employee who worked on the early iPhone.

The source understandably asked not to be named because Apple.

Not only does this device not look anything like what we know as an iPhone, it doesn’t look like anything Apple has ever released. This is some very early prototype action.

For starters, the thing is about 5-inches by 7-inches, much larger than any iPhone ever released. Secondly, this bastard device is about 2-inches thick. Of course, by 2005 standards, this was still a pretty slick and sexy device.

“Seems large now, but at the time it was really impressive seeing basically a version of OS X running on it,” said Ars Technica’s super secret source.

In addition to being Samsung-sized, the prototype is also loaded with ports normally seen on computers. For instance, this early iPhone included Ethernet, FireWire and even a serial port. According to the source, these ports were there just to make the development process a little easier. By the way the source talked to Ars, it seemed that anything was possible at this stage of development. He told Ars no one really knew what the final device would be at the time.

Though they might not have known what the device would be, they might have known the general direction they wanted it to take.

Even in the early days Apple called on Samsung to power the iPhone, employing a slower and older version of the Samsung chip that landed in the first ever iPhone.

“This chip is also an ARM9 chip, while the original iPhone eventually ended up using an ARM11 chip, but obviously Apple intended to use Samsung-manufactured ARM chips even this far back,” explained Ars writer Andrew Cunningham.

Prototypes such as these are always fascinating, in the same way that stories like Lord of the Rings or On the Road are fascinating. There’s something about a journey, about hearing which steps were taken to lead a person to the present, which is able to grab our concentration.

In the past year, we’ve gotten a pretty clear picture of the path Apple took to arrive at the iPhone and, later, the iPad.

Other than that, there’s little else to be taken from this story. Apple operates like any other company. They build, test, scrap, build, develop, test, scrap and build again.

And honestly, should anyone be surprised that Apple scrapped so many prototypes before landing on the first iPhone?

A product so revolutionary is not simply stumbled upon. These scrapped prototypes only serve to prove that Apple worked their apps off to change history the way they did.

Image Credit: Ars Technica

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