The fascinating origins of the iPhone and Twitter you didn’t know

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What is the story behind great technological innovations?  What was it like for those involved in making them? What were the struggles? The “aha!” moments?

I recently came across two great articles from the New York Times Magazine that tell the story (both myth and reality) of two of the biggest innovations in recent history: the iPhone and Twitter.

I share a lot of content across the social web (follow me on Twitter 🙂 – @mjkushin). But I want to take a moment to share these in depth articles on my blog and talk about them a little bit because they are two of the most insightful and enjoyable reads I have come across in months. While both are a bit long, I strongly encourage you to take time and read them.

Now I’ve been a Twitter user for several years. But I’ve never owned an iPhone. In fact, the iPhone came to be when I was in grad school and though while all my friends back home who were working had one, I couldn’t justify the expense on a TA’s stipend.  And besides, I grew up a Windows kid ever since we got our Packard Bell 486 back in the early 90s. While I use a Mac now, I wouldn’t say I’m a full-fledged Mac fan.  But the iPhone story below really gave me new respect for the innovation that was the iPhone and just how groundbreaking it truly was. It has been a few short years and we take for granted the multi-touch, the great picture, and the ability to do so much with a little computer in our pockets. But it wasn’t always that way…

“And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone’” From NYTimes Magazine tells the stressful and secretive story of the invention – from concept to reality – of the iPhone through the eyes of Andy Grignon, an iPhone engineer. It is a lengthy and thorough article that tells the story about the launch of the iPhone by Steve Jobs at MacWorld in San Fran, 2007.  It is absolutely fascinating to see the guts and forcefulness of Steve Jobs. Though the audience probably never realized it, the iPhone presented at MacWorld barely worked. So how did they make it happen? You’ll have to read the article to find out.

All Is fair in Love and Twitter” from NYTimes Magazine is the story of a simple idea – a service that allows people to share what they’re doing right now. That idea became Twitter, which we recently heard is going public. What you may not know is that Twitter exists perhaps because another company failed, a podcasting company called Odeo. Interestingly, this also has to do with Apple… but I’ll let you read the article to find out.

I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I did. These histories, and though recent that’s what they are, area fascinating!

– Cheers!


photos: top – Creative Commons wikipedia | copyright Twitter

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