The original iPhone is one of the most celebrated products of all time. That said, it is surprising how little we know about its development and people who made it happen. Yes, of course, Steve Jobs and Jony Ive were pivotal, but so was original iPhone designer Greg Christie.

He was the guy Steve Jobs picked to conceptualize the original iPhone user interface and basic app set. From slide to unlock and visual voicemail, Christie played an early leading role.

However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Christie almost lost his place history because he wasn’t thinking big enough.

“Steve had pretty much had it,” said Christie, who still heads Apple’s user-interface group. “He wanted bigger ideas and bigger concepts.”

Needless to say, Christie and his “shockingly small” team eventually impressed Jobs and, once that happened, the Apple CEO’s “…excitement for it was boundless.”

Which highlights an important trait of the Apple co-founder and other great leaders — once convinced, Jobs championed the iPhone and “put a dent in the universe.”

Original iPhone Epiphany

Asked about his strongest original iPhone memory, Christie chose a particularly personal and poignant moment.

A few days before Mr. Jobs’s keynote, Mr. Christie entered the auditorium through a side door using two separate security badges, then pulled back a thick curtain. He saw a giant image of the iPhone’s home screen projected onto the screen in the dark room. At that moment, he said, he realized how big the phone would be.

“It was glowing in this huge space,” said Christie. “My heart skipped a beat and I thought, ‘This is actually happening.'”

And, the original iPhone and its many siblings — Apple has sold more than 500 million since 2007 — has become very, very big indeed…

What’s your take?

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