The secret history of the iPhone

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But is it a secret, how the iPhone sausage gets made? Really?

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“The iPhone is the reason I’m divorced”

This makes me deeply uncomfortable. Because my knee-jerk reaction is, “no, dumbshit, your failure to keep your priorities in line is what caused your divorce!”. But knee-jerking is wrong and I try to second think it, so then I think, “What kind of toxic workplace would cause someone to lose sight of their priorities so thoroughly? Oh yeah, THAT kind, it happens all the time. It could happen to anyone. It could happen to me.”

But on the other hand, a healthy relationship with a healthy dose of communication and some compromise probably could survive workplace stress.

Dunno, that line alone either repels me from the book, or makes me want to read it to know more so that I can undo this yucky knee-jerk feeling.


PS: I read the origin story of the Newton, which included the suicide of Ko Isono. Another cautionary tale of a workplace that took everything the workers could give, right up until it was too much.


Please understand that I’m reading this on an Apple device, listening to Stephen Colbert on another Apple device, and have an Apple logo tattooed over my heart*, but sometimes I think Jobs could be a bit of a dick.

*One of these is may not be entirely true.

It happens everywhere in tech though, pretty much every tech person I know with any discernible skill has stories about /years/ of our lives spent like this between various projects. Kind of the problem is that at a certain point, just heavily staffing a team doesn’t make the team more effective, because there are only so many people you can throw at a problem. At some point, the smart people just need to work hard. Hiring 100x smart people won’t make the work go any faster, and will stand in the way of the kind of creative sparks that have to happen to make an iPhone go from “Steve said he wants /what/ now?” to “Hey, this really pretty much /works/”.

One of my favorites is the Atari history at, which I think was featured on BB at the time:
Making the Atari ST - Part 1
Part 2

He also has some great stories about being on the Newton team, and Atari recruiting him away from college to do arcade ports for the 8-bit computers.

It’s also notable while there are a number of Jay Miner’s out there, that many of these engineers, after finishing a massive masterwork of engineering heavy-lifting to pull a product kicking and screaming to market, go back the next day to resume working on that USB dongle controller until the next fire comes along.

The small team of talented people, yelling at each other with coffee and whiteboards at 2am often “works” really well. There just needs to be a defined end. Trouble happens when these people are put into permanent crunch mode like at EA, for instance.

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