“This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two and a half years”

steve jobs unveiling the iPhone in January of 2007
Fifteen years ago to this day, Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone to the world.

I’ve watched this introduction a number of times on YouTube, and every time I watch it I’m taken right back to that cold January day in 2007 when I sat in my dorm room watching the event.

But this is the funny thing about the brain: I wasn’t watching the event live; Apple chose not to livestream it; instead I was just madly refreshing a text page as I read text updates that bloggers lucky enough to be at the event were madly typing into their computers in real time. It would be a couple years still before Apple finally started live streaming all of their events.

Fifteen years is quite a long time. When Steve Jobs gave that keynote, macOS was called Mac OS X (the name was shortened to OS X in 2012), and the current version of the time was 10.4, an OS so old that when it was first released, Macs were still only running on PowerPC processors.

This sounds kind of bullshitty, but the iPhone changed my life. It didn’t merely become a new category of device I would eventually own (though I lived in Iowa at the time so I was rocking the iPod Touch life for awhile), but the existence of iPhone changed the trajectory of my career.

So far I’ve never really directly worked on iOS apps as a developer, but the mobile revolution that iPhone kicked off spawned a massive new tech economy in the late ’00s and 2010s. I benefited immensely from this, and after watching cool tech startups wistfully from the Midwest I decided to leave my stable-looking healthcare IT job and cram what I could into my car and move to Santa Monica, sight unseen, to work for this serial entrepreneur I had only really talked to once in a Skype call.

In retrospect that decision was probably the most consequential of my career.

In the 15 years since iPhone was unveiled, the world changed to become centered around mobile phones. Online services went from being a thing nerdy people used to being truly adopted by the masses as they became centered around smartphones that everybody now owned. For so many people, their phone is their personal computer now.

And that revolution happened because of (and only because of) the iPhone. Smartphones were a thing before iPhone, of course, but they were BlackBerry-type devices. Android was kind of under development when iPhone was unveiled, but if you look at Android prototypes before and after the iPhone, the influence is really obvious.

The iPhone was the catalyst that made software an even more important part of all of our lives (and given how pervasive it was before the iPhone, that’s saying something). It allowed me to graduate from college in a time of a shit economy and develop a career so lucrative that I regard emails from recruiters with six-figure job opportunities (real opportunities, too!) as almost spammy because I get so many of them.

It blows my mind that I can describe the influence this device has had on my life without describing so much as a single feature of it.


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