‘The One Device’ Explores the Creation of the iPhone, the Technology That Went Into It, and More

As we noted last week, today marks the release of The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, a new book from Motherboard editor Brian Merchant chronicling the development of the original iPhone. I’ve had a chance to read through the book before its launch, and overall it’s an entertaining read, although it comes up a bit short in its promise to unveil the secret history of the landmark device.

The One Device is really a book in two parts, and the part directly covering the development of the original iPhone is actually only about 30 percent of the book, broken up into four chapters interspersed throughout. The remainder of the book covers topics that are related to the iPhone, but which are in most cases separate from the direct early iPhone history.

In the four chapters that cover the development of the iPhone, Merchant weaves together his own interviews with a number of engineers who worked on the original iPhone with tidbits and quotes pulled from other sources such as executives’ testimony in the Samsung trial, Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs, and Brett Schlender and Rick Tetzeli’s Becoming Steve Jobs. Many of the members of the original iPhone team have left Apple over the past ten years, so some of those key former employees including Bas Ording, Richard Williamson, Imran Chaudhri, and the colorful Andy Grignon were willing to talk to Merchant about their time working on the project.

There are some interesting details about early work on multi-touch inspired by Wayne Westerman’s FingerWorks technology that was eventually acquired by Apple, Steve Jobs’ obsession with secrecy on the project that led to the team winning an internal “innovation award” at Apple’s annual “Top 100” retreat even though the project they working on couldn’t be revealed to the those in attendance, and the trials and tribulations faced by the small initial team working under signifiant pressure.

“That project broke all of the rules of product management,” a member of the original…

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