The New York Times profiles Francisco Tolmasky who was hired out of college early by Apple in 2006 to work on Mobile Safari in the run up to the launch of the iPhone. It is hard to imagine a more difficult first job than working with Steve Jobs on something so important.
Mr. Jobs was taking a monthlong vacation, so Mr. Tolmasky had to wait for him to return to give his personal blessing for the hiring. “He was super guarded about the project, and he was probably suspicious of some random 20-year-old,” Mr. Tolmasky said. “I remember being very frustrated. This was, like, an impossible task.”
It wasn’t just Mobile Safari…
The keyboard, he said, was the result of a sort of hackathon run by Mr. Jobs. The chief executive had been unhappy with the keyboard prototypes for the iPhone, so he assigned everyone on the team to work only on keyboards for an entire week. An engineer on Mr. Tolmasky’s team won the contest, and from then on his full-time job was to work on the iPhone keyboard.
“Within a week he had something that was working, and in two weeks he had something to show at Macworld that we were showing,” Mr. Tolmasky said. “That was the kind of effect Steve could have on you: This is important, this needs to happen, and you do it.”
It wasn’t all serious though. One particular anecdote produces a few LOLs:
Mr. Jobs was notorious for throwing his weight around however he could. One person on the iPhone design team was also named Steve, which caused some confusion in meetings. Mr. Jobs sought to change this.“At some point Steve Jobs got really frustrated with this and said ‘Guess what, you’re Margaret from now on,’” Mr. Tolmasky said. From there on, members of the team would always address the designer Steve as Margaret.
Tolmasky left Apple after the launch of the iPhone and formed a startup that eventually got bought by Motorola for around $20M. He is now focusing on games that “take advantage of the smart sensors, like the accelerometer and gyroscope, inside mobile devices. His game, Bonsai Slice, developed with a team of five people, involves swinging around an iPad like a sword, to cut through virtual objects on the screen”.
A trailer for the game is below:
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