The first commercially available cell phone, released in 1983, weighed nearly two pounds, cost $3,995, and had a battery that lasted about as long an episode of Benson. Fast-forward more than 25 years to the iPhone 4, with its 1 GHz processor, 5-megapixel camera and HD video, 512 megabytes of memory, and (relatively) affordable price tag for texting, tweeting, talking, filming, mapping, and iTuning to your heart’s content. As far as technological progress goes, it’s like going from an arrowhead to a Swiss Army Knife.
These are just a few of the fun facts covered in CNET UK’s exhaustive animated history of the iPhone. In less than four minutes, CNET manages to give us an almost Boswellian account of Apple’s foray into iPhone-dom from Motorola’s earliest experiments with cell phones and the advent of the interwebs to Jony Ive’s design inspiration (in the work of Dieter Rams, natch). The video goes fast, and the level of detail is minute, so you’ll have to pause and rewind to capture every last nuance of the story. But even if you don’t, the basic point abides: A hell of a lot of technological and design innovation took place before Apple ever loosed its slick little iPhones on the market. Apple just combined and honed what other people already invented.
CNET prepared the infographic on the eve of the anticipated release of the iPhone 5. “Given the deafening buzz around a product that hasn’t even launched yet, we thought it would be the perfect time to put the iPhone into context, going right back to the very first mobile phone call and the beginning of the Internet,” they wrote. Oops! Got a bit ahead of themselves there. But no matter. iPhone 5 or not, it’s always fun to scoff at the technological unsophistication of yesteryear.
[Hat tip to Cool Infographics]