The iPhone, the hand-held device that changed the way people communicate and made the internet fully portable, has a birthday today. It was seven years ago, January 9, 2007, that Apple CEO Steve Jobs first showed the space-age device to the world.
The actual phone itself did not go on sale until June of that year, but when it debuted, ardent Apple customers formed lines blocks deep to get into Apple stores and purchase the exciting new device. The camping-out-in-line phenomenon has repeated itself for each new version of the iPhone, as well as for similar Apple products such as the iPad, a larger, "tablet" computer that runs a slightly modified version of the iPhone's operating system, without the phone.
"This is a day I've been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years," Jobs declared as he took the stage at San Francisco's Moscone Center seven years ago today, the tech site CNet recalled. "Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything."
Relive his entire presentation that day in the video above.
The iPhone itself was a direct descendant of another world-shaking Apple-Jobs innovation, the iPod, introduced on October 23, 2001. The iPod's original function was simply to store and play back music in the digitally compressed mp3 format and similar file types.
The first iPod could hold about 1,000 songs — the equivalent of more than 300 compact discs — all in a hand-held device smaller than a pack of baseball cards. But at the time, it was hard to see how it would be a precursor to the revolutionary iPhone.
As the Cult of Mac web site recounts, the iPod was part of Jobs' "digital hub" vision. The Apple co-founder and boss believed that most aspects of daily life would eventually be handled by computerized devices.
While time seems to have borne him out, early responses to the iPod by technology experts and users was largely negative. The price tag of almost $400 for a simple music player, no matter how compact, struck large segments of the public as excessive, and the hype surrounding the iPod was declared unjustified.
But Jobs had the last laugh. The iPod alone — the latest version holds 32 times as many songs as the original, and also stores and plays video — sold about 350 million units by the end of 2012, a year after Jobs' death at age 56 from pancreatic cancer.
When Jobs introduced the first iPhone seven years ago today, he acknowledged its debt to the iPod, describing the iPhone as "an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator," all in one.