¶ Five Years of iPhone

Five years ago today the original iPhone was released. I lived in South Dakota at the time, which, back in 2007, didn’t have an iota of AT&T service (now the entire state has it).

I do, however, remember the first time I saw an iPhone. It was July 16, 2007. Two days after I married Karen. My bride and I were sitting in the Denver airport, awaiting our connecting flight to Seattle. A young woman sat down next to me, on my left, and she pulled out an iPhone. I politely asked her a few questions about it, and after a couple moments she received a phone call.

A few days later Karen and I made our way to an Apple Store in Seattle, specifically because I wanted to play with an iPhone. The store was packed, and I had to wait a few moments to have a chance to try out one of the many display models.

When I picked up an iPhone for the first time, I was blown away. The fit and finish of that original iPhone was mesmerizing. I immediately went to Safari and looked at my website on it. I went into the iPod app and checked out Cover Flow, which was completely novel at the time (I honestly can’t stand it now). I watched a minute or two of an episode of LOST. And then…

…then I wondered if it would be okay to make a phone call. All the staff were quite busy. I decided to give it a whirl. I called my parents back in South Dakota. As I recall, they were a little surprised to hear my voice when the Caller ID said Apple was calling.

Then I called my friend Nathan, who — just days earlier — stood with me as a groomsman at my wedding. Nathan and I have always enjoyed discussing technology.

I left the Apple Store knowing I desperately wanted an iPhone. But, without any sort of service (not even roaming, as South Dakota only had CDMA towers at the time) in my state of residence, I knew I could be waiting a while.

I was satiated a couple months later with the release of the iPod touch. The iPod touch started out extremely sparse compared to the iPhone. This was, after all, before the App Store. It came with just a few built-in apps. That January, Apple gladly took $20 from me to add Mail, Notes, Weather, Stocks, and Maps.

In the Spring of 2008, we decided to move to Lincoln, NE. It turned out that Lincoln had AT&T. Fast-forward to July 11, 2008. Here I am, standing in line in Omaha at the Apple Store for the iPhone 3G. Karen was pregnant and due at pretty much any moment, so, I was a little nervous about being an hour away.

I got the iPhone 3G, and had it set up a while later. Four days later, my son was born. It is amazing how useful the iPhone was the day he was born. I timed contractions using the built-in stopwatch. And while I didn’t take the first photos of him with the iPhone, the first one most of our friends & family saw was taken with it. I had drafted an email a couple days earlier, leaving blanks for length, weight, time of birth, etc. I had also set up a MobileMe Gallery (because the iPhone couldn’t copy & paste yet) and inserted that link into the draft. So, I took a photo of Jonathan, uploaded it to the gallery, filled in the statistical information and sent it off. I did all that without needing to leave the side of my resting wife & son. Without needing to pull out a laptop.

I’ll never forget my son’s birth. And in those memories, the iPhone is there. It sounds silly (believe me, it does). But the iPhone played a very important role that day.

In this day and age, our phones are important to us. They are certainly the most personal computer we own. They are almost always within arm’s reach. We plug them in to charge right before going to sleep. We pick them up to check the news and weather and what not moments after awakening.

In one way, that can seem quite sad and pathetic. In another way, the barrier of technology in our lives has melted away. I can’t imagine feeling this close of a connection with the Motorola RAZR I owned five years ago. I can’t imagine not having my iPhone today.

I often think about the future. Much of that thinking is spawned by watching my son, who is about to turn 4 years old in a few weeks. He has Karen’s old iPod touch, with all the restrictions turned on, and loaded with kid games and Pixar movies. He knows what our Macs are, and he is interested in them a little. But not like his iPod. Not like our iPhones. And certainly not like my iPad.

My son has never known a day of his life without one of these devices present. Certain apps on his iPod helped him learn how to read and write earlier than many of his peers (you read that right, he can read a book on his own and has a pretty good grasp on early writing, and he isn’t even 4! Sorry about the Daddy Brag, but I’m proud of him!).

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that when he goes to college, he’ll take something that looks more like an iPad than a MacBook. Heck, typing on a screen may very well be the way he learns to type.

A lot has changed in the past five years of computing. I think you’d be hard pressed to argue that the iPhone isn’t the catalyst that inspired or outright started those changes.

Here’s to the next five years.