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Tech Rewind: When Apple unveiled the first iPhone

Tech giant Apple introduced the first generation iPhone on January 9th in 2007. A look at how the smartphone came to be and the way it revolutionised the tech industry...

Apple CEO Steve Jobs initially wanted to utilise a multi-touch touchscreen through which he could interact with a computer by typing directly onto the display in the same essence as a tablet computer. This would virtually remove the use of the physical keyboard and mouse. After reviewiing the prototype's interface, which was created by a group of Apple engineers, who were recruited for this purpose as a side project, Jobs hit upon another idea of implementing the aforementioned technology onto a mobile phone. Apple started this experimental effort, which was named Project Purple 2 was started in 2005.

The Apple iPhone displayed behind a glass enclosure at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco. Pic/AFP
The Apple iPhone displayed behind a glass enclosure at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco, California. Pic/AFP

Apple's unprecedented and secretive collaboration with AT&T formerly known as Cingular Wireless made the creation of the device a reality, with an estimated cost of USD 150 million over a 30 month period. Apple was given total freedom to develop the iPhone's hardware and software in-house by Cingular Wireless after rejecting the "design by committee" approach during the creation of the Motorola ROKR E1, which was a largely unsuccessful collaboration with Motorola.

In an effort to 'reinvent the phone' Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world as a combination of 3 devices:

>> A widescreen iPod with touch controls (A gadget with the same feature along with music and video viewing capabilities would be unveiled in September 2007 as the iPod Touch)
>> A revolutionary mobile phone
>> A breakthrough internet communicator

The original iPhone also known as the iPhone 1, iPhone 1G or the iPhone 2G was unveiled at the Macworld Conference & Expo held in Moscone West in San Francisco, California.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco, California. Pic/AFP
Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco, California. Pic/AFP

The iPhone was released in the United States on June 29, 2007 and later made available in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and Austria in November of the same year.

Several tech consumers reportedly waited outside many Apple and AT&T retail stores days before the gadget's launch with many stores reporting stock shortages within an hour. Off-duty police officers were hired to guard stores overnight to avoid repeating the problems of the Playstation 3 launch, which caused burglaries and even a shooting. 6 out of 10 Americans were aware of the iPhone before its released revealed a survey.

George Hotz 'cracks' the iPhone!
American hacker George Hotz would go on in history as the man who first unlocking the iPhone, allowing it to be used with other wireless carriers, which was contrary to AT&T's and Apple's intentions. Hotz, who was 17-years-old at the time of the hacking, sold the first unlocked iPhone in the United States for three locked iPhones and a Nissan 350Z. He developed the limera1n jailbreak tool and bootrom exploit for the iPhone's iOS.

In September 2007, an anonymous group achieved a software-only unlocking method to complement Hotz's hardware-based unlocking method. On July 13, 2010, Hotz announced the discontinuation of his jailbreaking activities, citing demotivation over the technology and the unwanted personal attention but continued to release new software-based jailbreak techniques through October 2010.

The iPhone OS is introduced
Initially marketed as "OS X", the name was later revealed as iPhone OS with the release of the iPhone SDK. The iPhone OS or iPhone OS 1 as it was later referred to included Visual Voicemail, multi-touch gestures, HTML email, Safari web browser, threaded text messaging, and YouTube. However, many features like MMS, apps, and copy and paste were not supported, which led to hackers jailbreaking their iPhones, which made it possible to add them. Official software updates slowly added these features.

Initial reviews of the iPhone were positive but cautious with many criticising the relatively slow speed of AT&T's 2.5G EDGE network and the phone's inability to connect using 3G services. However, one review cited that, "despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer."  The iPhone was named Time magazine's 'Invention of the Year' in 2007.

Apple sold the one millionth iPhone 74 days after its release. The entry of the iPhone into the mobile phone market also saw the creation and release of the iPod Touch on September 5th 2007, a multipurpose pocket-size music and video player, which contained a ful touchscreen, digital camera and was also a handheld game device and PDA or personal digital assistant.

An attendee holds the iPod Touch at an Apple Special event on 5th September 2007 in San Francisco. Pic/AFP
An attendee holds the iPod Touch at an Apple Special event on 5th September 2007 in San Francisco, California. Pic/AFP

With the release of the iPod Touch, Apple significantly dropped the price of the 8GB iPhone model and discontinued the 4GB model. On February 5, 2008 a 16GB model of the iPhone was released followed by an SDK or software development kit on March 6, 2008 that allowed developers to create apps that would be available on the iPhone OS version 2.0, which was a free upgrade for iPhone users. The original iPhone was discontinued on July 11, 2008 after shipping for the iPhone 3G, which was announced earlier on June 9 had begun.

The specs of the first iPhone

Dimensions:
Height: 115 mm (4.5 in)
Width: 61 mm (2.4 in)
Density: 11.6 mm (0.46 in)
Weight: 135 g (4.8 oz)
Form factor: Slate
OS: iPhone OS 1.0
CPU: Samsung 32-bit RISC ARM 1176JZ(F)-S v1.0 620 MHz Underclocked to 412 MHz
Memory: 128 MB eDRAM
Storage: 4, 8 or 16 GB flash memory
Battery: Built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery[7] 3.7 V 1400 mAh
Data inputs:
Multi-touch touchscreen display
3-axis accelerometer
Proximity sensor
Ambient light sensor
Microphone
Headset controls
Display:
3.5-inch screen (diagonally)
320×480 pixel resolution at 163 ppi
2:3 aspect ratio
18-bit (262,144-color) LCD
Rear camera: 2.0 MP with geotagging
Sound: Two speakers
TRRS headphone jack, 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response (internal, headset)
Microphone
Connectivity: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE
(850 900 1,800 1,900 MHz)
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
Bluetooth 2.0
USB 2.0/Dock connector

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