As we reported last week, Scott Fostall is set to publicly talk about the iPhone’s creation this evening at  Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The interview marks a change of pace for the former Apple executive, who has generally traveled under the radar since Apple CEO Tim Cook fired him in late 2012 following the shaky Apple Maps rollout.

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

Head below for a live stream, more details, and our commentary on the interview…

How did iPhone come to be? On June 20, four members of the original development team will discuss the secret Apple project, which in the past decade has remade the computer industry, changed the business landscape, and become a tool in the hands of more than a billion people around the world.

Scott Forstall, the leader of the original iPhone software team will take part in a fireside chat with Computer History Museum historian John Markoff. A panel with three of the engineers who worked on the original iPhone, Nitin Ganatra, Scott Herz, and Hugo Fiennes, will describe how the iPhone came to be.

Part 1: Original iPhone Engineers Nitin Ganatra, Scott Herz, and Hugo Fiennes in Conversation with John Markoff

Part 2: Original iPhone Software Team Leader Scott Forstall in Conversation with John Markoff

Live stream:

Live blog:

  • Opening with interview with original iPhone engineers Nitin Ganatra, Scott Herz, and Hugo Fiennes
  • How was living with the secrecy? “The thing about Apple is we all get it, we all live in that culture. They were very respectful. You develop a talent for describing what you’re working on without giving too many details.”
  • Fiennes: “The first time I saw pinch-to-zoom was at the keynote.”
  • Ganatra: “There was so much value in having this secrecy. I think it served us very well in the end. Nobody knew what was coming and nobody knew what we were working on.”
  • Ganatra: I can’t tell you how many times I heard Scott talk about scrolling deceleration…being very detailed about scrolling and how the UI responds to touch. There’s a lot of math that goes into making it work so well.”
  • Herz: “I was doing my best work because Steve might be, and sometimes was, lurking around the corner.”
  • Fiennes says Jobs once asked him to move the CPU a couple of millimeters to make the PCB symmetrical…
  • Forstall: “I have always loved theater…I used to act. It was always a passion. When I left Apple, I was introduced to a woman and we hit it off and she said ‘we should produce something on Broadway.’ She started sending me scripts and ‘Fun Home’ was one of the scripts she sent me…and it’s a powerful story.”
  • Parallels between software and theater? “Doing a show is like a startup…you start with the creative types, you invent something, you put a bunch of money and effort and time behind it, and you give it to the public.”
  • If you’d ended up at Microsoft? “They were doing great…I had this idea that anywhere you went doing engineering you’d be doing great.”
  • Role at NeXT? “I did whatever they told me to do.. I worked on the user interface frameworks..the basis for Cocoa Touch.”
  • In the loop when Steve sold NeXT to Apple? “We were in the loop in that we kept on trying to pivot and had great tech, but not customers. At some point, Steve decided that Apple needed us. We needed to be something other than NeXT [to be a platform.]”‘
  • “The iPhone and a very circuitous route. We had been working on a tablet project and it began because Steve hated this guy at Microsoft..every time Steve had any social interaction with that guy, he would come back pissed off. He came back one time and that guy was talking about how Microsoft had solved computing. Steve came in on Monday with a set of expletives and said let’s show them.”
  • Steve proposed to Scott: “Do you think we could take that demo we’re doing with the tablet and shrink it down to a phone?”
  • “The first text I ever sent was on my iPhone, because texting on other devices was horrid.”
  • On carriers: “Do we buy spectrum and build out our own network…do we partner with one? We started talking with these characters and said we knew a little thing about user design.”
    • Scott and Steve fly to Vegas to demo the iPhone to AT&T/Cingular, forcing the Four Seasons to make Wi-Fi free for the weekend
  • “Steve was the most intense person I’ve ever known. Having dinner with a world leader compared to lunch on a Tuesday with Steve…super driven, demanding, and forced people to do their best.”
  • “He was really passionate and dedicated to his friends and relatives. He saved my life once. It was when we were deep into Mac OS X and I get sick. This virus went through my kids’ school and it hit me and I start throwing up once every few hours, once an hour, a little more every day. The second week passed and I was throwing up every 15 minutes…I went through the hospital..they couldn’t solve. They finally figure it out, they Mayo Clinic had seen 7 cases over the decade and they all died. Steve calls every single day. One night at like 10:00 at night, months into it, and Steve says he has the best acupuncturist in the world and I’m going to bring her to you tonight and she’s going to fix you. She started sticking needles in my neck and my back…and nausea started going away.
  • On Jobs passing: “When he was sick, I’d go to his house every day..some days he couldn’t open his eyes. We got Siri right before he passed and he loved it because he was too weak to type. I was surprised, it just seemed like he’d always be there.”
  • Scott says that Steve always insisted on paying for his lunch at the Apple cafeteria and the payments were processed through scanning badges and the cost of the food being deducted from employee paychecks. Steve then said, “I only get paid $1 a year. I don’t know who’s paying every time!” “He was a multibillionaire scamming Apple,” Scott said.
  • “Early reviewers didn’t get the iPhone. I was unconcerned.”
  • Working on any new tech? “I’m doing a lot..Broadway..startups…I’m not currently building something myself.”
  • AR? “I think the idea of AR is a good one if there’s a form factor that makes sense.”
  • Scott thanks everyone in the audience who helped make the iPhone possible.
  • And that’s a wrap…full video soon.

About the Author

Chance Miller's favorite gear