The iPhone is ten years old today—Steve Jobs unveiled it at Macworld Expo 2007.
There’s a ton of coverage today from various publications, reminiscing on Apple’s introduction of the iPhone, as well as its place in history and the impact it had (and still has) on the world. While it’s easy to get caught up in the promise of technology and the hottest new gadgets, the original iPhone is one of the exceedingly rare products that actually represent a seminal moment in history. It was a true revolutionary, “five years ahead” of anything out there at the time, as Jobs said during the presentation, product. You need not look any further than listen to the audience’s reaction to scrolling to see how new and monumental the iPhone and Multi-Touch was.
iPhone literally defined the future of not only cell phones but computers in general.
Yet for as defining as that first iPhone was, both culturally and technologically, it’s hard to believe that it shipped not only without the App Store, but without any accessibility features. It took three generations of iPhone for accessibility to be added to iPhone OS. For me, though, that didn’t matter. The “accessibility” feature that captivated me was the touchscreen; after years of struggling with small screens and small buttons, the fact I could simply use my finger(s) to interact with the device was incredible. As someone with disabilities, the iPhone’s huge (for its time) screen and its Multi-Touch interaction model was so much better than anything I’d ever used, I knew I wanted it and it was going to be life-changing.
Ten years later, it’s hard to overstate just how essential the iPhone has been to my life. Like everyone, the iPhone is my most-used device and is my life in my pocket. But even going without accessibility features until the 3GS, the iPhone was the device that introduced iOS, the most accessible computing platform ever known. Although I’ve rekindled my enthusiasm for macOS over the last couple of months, iOS remains my favorite platform by far. And it isn’t about features inasmuch as it is its general accessibility—tap-and-swipe is better and more fun than point-and-click. This is high praise coming from someone who grew up on traditional computing environments such as Windows.
There’ll always be ways for Apple to improve iOS, accessibility included, but without the iPhone, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And I don’t mean simply as a reporter, writing about Apple for my job. The iPhone changed my relationship with computing, period, enabling me to do more than ever before.
Last year, I wrote the 12.9” iPad Pro is “the most accessible computer Apple has ever built,” but the tablet wouldn’t exist without the iPhone. The original iPhone was the standard-bearer, the trailblazer, and the harbinger of so many great things to come.
My only regret is my original iPhone now serves as a life-altering paperweight. I dropped it in a puddle during a severe rainstorm sometime in 2009, and it suffered irreparable water damage. It’d sure be great to boot it up for old time’s sake.
Here’s to another ten years, iPhone.