back to article Fake History Alert: Sorry BBC, but Apple really did invent the iPhone

You've heard of "Fake News" – but how does Fake History gradually supersede the reality-based version? It's through repetition, and Christmas found the BBC busy doing some scrubbing. The proposition it set about is simple: Apple didn't really invent the iPhone. From Oxford, inventor and engineer Andrew Fentem writes to take …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    Does that mean...

    that Mazzucato and her research is a product of the state?

    1. YARR

      Mariana seems to be confusing the innovator who created the idea with who owns the intellectual property rights. The Soviet Union owned Tetris but they acknowledged that Alexey Pajitnov invented it.

      States and corporations represent the people who own them: shareholders or taxpayers respectively. Funding innovation gives you ownership rights but doesn't make you the innovator.

    2. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Headmaster

      The point stands

      It remains a fact that most of the technology that Apple benefits from, and indeed most of today's technology, only exists because of government funding. Not just "state schools" but actual government funded research. The fact that this research was conducted by individuals does not somehow alter the fact that those individuals were paid by the state to do state-funded research on state-owned equipment in state-owned facilities. These facts are supported by well-documented history [*], not merely the opinions of a single observer to that history.

      The reason for this is not difficult to deduce. The private sector only has one motive: profit. That means it is intrinsically unwilling to take risks. Genuinely new technology is unproven by definition, and therefore anyone with a purely financial motive will be unwilling to risk capital pursuing it, indeed the private sector actually has a legal obligation not to take such risks with investor capital. This means that the private sector is fundamentally antithetical to innovation.

      The state, meanwhile, has other motives. That doesn't mean those motives are necessarily more noble, but they are not entirely financial either. One of the biggest is military supremacy, and that single obsession is probably responsible for more genuine innovation than any other throughout history, for better or worse.

      It's ironic that the same pro-capitalist arguments that have us living in caves if we abandon capitalism, are equally applicable to anti-statism, in fact probably more so. The private sector excels at taking state-funded technology and making it look pretty, but not much else. Does that really qualify as "innovation"? Well, only if your definition of "innovation" is money.

      [*] "NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

      The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare."

      1. deconstructionist

        Re: The point stands

        the point is flat on it's back just like the sophistic reply.

        Lets take apples first machines they copied the mouse from Olivetti , they took the OS look from a rank XEROX engineers work, the private sector take risks and plagiarize when they can, but the missing person here is the amateur, take the BBS private individuals designed, built and ran it was the pre cursor to the net and a lot of .com company's like AOL and CompuServe where born there.

        And the poor clarity in the BBC article is mind numbing, the modern tech industry has the Fairchild camera company as it's grand daddy which is about as far from federal or state intervention and innovation as you can get .

        Deconstructionism only works when you understand the brief and use the correct and varied sources not just one crackpot seeking attention.

        1. Oh Homer Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Fairchild

          You mean the same Fairchild that owed its very existence to highly lucrative military contracts?

          If you're going to cherry-pick examples to discredit the significance of state funded innovation, it might be a good idea to try to pick one that wasn't actually state funded.

          1. deconstructionist

            Re: Fairchild

            Fairchild's innovation and design are the egg the contracts are the chicken, timelines always confuse deconstructionists, it was the innovation in transistors that led to government contracts not the other way about ....so your point is vapid.

            take the micro processor which one of Fairchild's children "Intel" designed was to do with calculators for the mass market nothing to do with military contract that came after, so if you're going to make a counter point take the 3 step rule

            think

            check

            type .

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: The point stands

        I'm sure you have many valid points, but I don't think this is one of them:

        "The reason for this is not difficult to deduce. The private sector only has one motive: profit. That means it is intrinsically unwilling to take risks."

        Typically it is the complete opposite.

        Yes, tax payer money does fund research, typically in a university setting.

        Such research is often 1) WIthin very confined remit. 2) Poorly funded. 3) Politically driven. 4) Performed by not the best. 5) Separated from the real world.

        I'd say that most innovation happens funded by venture capital outside of state sponsored activities.

  2. Spleenmeister

    Fake news? Shurely shome mishtake?

    The BBC spreading fake news? Colour me shocked

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Fake news? Shurely shome mishtake?

      BBC Journalists knowing sweet FA about technology. Colour me shocked. But to be honest quibbling with such an obvious puff piece is a bit of the level of handbags at dawn.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Fake news? Shurely shome mishtake?

      > Colour me shocked.

      You missed the icon here.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. luminous
    FAIL

    Optional

    Calls out someone for not being impartial then refers to searching the internet by using Google as a verb....

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Optional

      I can only find one instance of "Google" which is in the quoted letter.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Optional

      > by using Google as a verb....

      Goggle spokesperson, I presume?

  5. Notas Badoff

    Was it delicious served cold?

    "... but I would therefore have three suggestions as to how the situation might be rectified: ..." I see "publish an apology and retraction", and I see "BBC could publish another article" ...

    What was his third suggestion? Oh I do wonder...

    Was it unprintable, though "... things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective"?

  6. luminous
    FAIL

    Impartiality

    Calls out someone for not being impartial... then refers to searching the internet by using "Google" as a verb...

  7. jaduncan

    Ironically, neither party mentions LG.

  8. Gruntled

    Who really invented the iPhone?

    Everyone knows that it was Shiva Ayyadurai, right after he invented email.

  9. MR J

    Uhhhh

    Seeing how much free advertising the BBC has given Apple over the years I doubt they will care.

    And lets be honest here, the guy is kinda correct. We didn't just go from a dumb phone to a smart phone, there was a gradual move towards it as processing power was able to be increased and electronic packages made smaller. Had we gone from the old brick phones straight to an iPhone then I would agree that they owned something like TNT.

    Did Apple design the iPhone - Yes, of course.

    Did Apple invent the Smart Phone - Nope.

    IBM had a touch screen "smart" phone in 1992 that had a square screen with rounded corners.

    What Apple did was put it into a great package with a great store behind it and they made sure it worked - and worked well. I personally am not fond of Apple due to the huge price premium they demand and overly locked down ecosystems, but I will admit it was a wonderful product Design.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    In a State

    Based on Mazzucato's thinking, if anyone educated by the State creates anything of note and one disregards any subsequent influences on them, they owe the State, then that should apply equally to anyone who becomes a criminnal/terrorist/paedo etc because they were educated by the State and it should reap the benefits/blame for it's education and guidance.

  11. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Meh

    News organization with an agenda

    Well, what a surprise.

  12. Mage Silver badge
    Coat

    Invention of iPhone

    It wasn't even really an invention.

    The BBC frequently "invents" tech history. They probably think MS and IBM created personal computing, when in fact they held it back for 10 years and destroyed innovating companies then.

    The only significant part was the touch interface by Fingerworks.

    I was reading a BBC news web article and it was wrong too. It missed out emphasising that the real reason for success in 2007 was the deals with operators, cheap high cap data packages, often bundled with iPhone from the Mobile Operator.

    This is nonsense:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38550016

    "Those were the days, by the way, when phones were for making calls but all that was about to change."

    Actually if you had a corporate account, you had a phone already with email, Apps, ability to read MS Office docs, web browser and even real Fax send/receive maybe 5 or 6 years before the iPhone. Apart from an easier touch interface, the pre-existing phones had more features like copy/paste, voice control and recording calls.

    The revolution was ordinary consumers being able to have a smart phone AND afford the data. The actual HW was commodity stuff. I had the dev system for the SC6400 Samsung ARM cpu used it.

    Why did other phones use resistive + stylus instead of capacitive finger touch?

    1) Apple Newton and Palm: Handwriting & annotation. Needs high resolution.

    2) Dominance of MS CE interface (only usable with with a high resolution stylus.

    The capacitive touch existed in the late 1980s, but "holy grail" was handwriting recognition, not gesture control, though Xerox and IIS both had worked on it and guestures were defined before the 1990s. So the UK guy didn't invent anything.

    Also irrelevant.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38552241

    Mines the one with a N9110 and later N9210 in the pocket. The first commercial smart phone was 1998 and crippled by high per MByte or per second (or both!) charging. Also in 2002, max speed was often 28K, but then in 2005 my landline was still 19.2K till I got Broadband, though I had 128K in 1990s in the city (ISDN) before I moved.

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "opinion pieces don't need to be balanced"

    If I admit that that point of view is justified, that can only be if the article is clearly labelled as an opinion piece, and projects that fact unambiguously.

    I am no fan of Apple, but to state that something was invented by the State because everyone involved went to state-funded school is a kindergarten-level of thinking that has no place in reasoned argument.

    The only good thing I take from this article is the knowledge that whatever I hear or read from someone signed Harford and/or Mazzucato is something that I should take with a heavy load of salt.

  14. TonyJ Silver badge

    Hmmm....iPhone 1.0

    I actually got one of these for my wife.

    It was awful. It almost felt like a beta product (and these are just a few of things I still remember):

    It had no kind of face sensor so it was common for the user to disconnect mid-call via their chin or cheek;

    It's autocorrect functions were terrible - tiny little words above the word in question and even tinier x to close the option;

    Inability to forward messages;

    No email support;

    No apps.

    I think it's reasonably fair to say that it was the app store that really allowed the iPhone to become so successful, combined with the then Apple aura and mystique that Jobs was bringing to their products.

    As to who invented this bit or that bit - I suggest you could pull most products released in the last 10-20 years and have the same kind of arguments.

    But poor show on the beeb for their lack of fact checking on this one.

  15. spider from mars

    I don't really see what the fuss is about

    I listened to the podcast - the title was a bit hyperbolic, but the actual content of the program seemed uncontroversial.

  16. Spender
    FAIL

    I can't think of a single invention that doesn't stand on the shoulders of previous inventions. Following this through to its logical conclusion, one might be tempted to think that nothing has been invented for millions of years. Hmm..

  17. Ian Emery Silver badge

    For balance

    Can we please have an article stating the BBC is wonderful and never lies??

    Oh, sorry, just noticed you already have!!!!

  18. John Miles 1

    Tim Harford

    Sad to see someone like Tim Harford being seduced the the publicity that a 'startling revelation' produces. Perhaps he should stick to seeing where the facts lead rather than following the most headline grabbing path.

  19. David Tallboys

    I thought I invented it.

    Somebody gave me an iPod and i said "Wow, it can do all this. Wouldn't it be great if it could make phone calls too?" A week later there's an iPhone.

  20. nedge2k

    Apple invented everything...

    They may have invented the iPhone but they DID NOT invent the "smartphone category" as that article suggests.

    Microsoft had Smartphone 2002 and Pocket PC 2000 which were eventually merged into Windows Mobile and, interface aside, were vastly superior to the iPhone's iOS. Devices were manufactured in a similar fashion to how android devices are now - MS provided the OS and firms like HTC, HP, Acer, Asus, Eten, Motorola made the hardware. People rarely know how long HTC has been going as they used to OEM stuff for the networks - like the original Orange SPV (HTC Canary), a candybar style device running Microsoft Smartphone 2002. Or the original O2 XDA (HTC Wallaby), one the first Pocket PC "phone edition" devices and, IIRC, the first touchscreen smartphone to be made by HTC.

  21. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Engineering change at the BBC?

    > Or, the BBC could publish another article – preferably written by engineering experts

    I love a techy with a sense of humour.

    The BBC doesn't "do" engineering - especially engineering experts. It barely does any science (the best you can hope for these days is a brief explanation in a cookery programme.) About as far as they are willing to go is to have James May wielding a screwdriver and putting something back together again (though how do we know he wasn't filmed taking it apart and they are just playing the recording backwards?)

    1. Lotaresco Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I thought I invented it.

      I invented the needle. I was looking at my shirt that had a missing button and I said I could fix this if I had a needle. I'm a genius, I am.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: I thought I invented it.

      That was the first market demographics - iPod users happy to buy one who could also make calls. But that's also were Nokia failed spectacularly - it was by nature phone-centric. Its models where phones that could also make something else. True smartphones are instead little computers that can also make phone calls. In many ways Treo/Palm and Windows CE anticipated it, but especially the latter tried to bring a "desktop" UI on tiny devices (and designed UIs around a stylus and a physical keyboard). the iPod probably taught Apple you need a proper "finger based" UI for this kind of devices - especially for the consumer market - and multitouch solved a lot of problems.

      1. Ogi

        Re: I thought I invented it.

        >That was the first market demographics - iPod users happy to buy one who could also make calls. But that's also were Nokia failed spectacularly - it was by nature phone-centric. Its models where phones that could also make something else. True smartphones are instead little computers that can also make phone calls. In many ways Treo/Palm and Windows CE anticipated it, but especially the latter tried to bring a "desktop" UI on tiny devices (and designed UIs around a stylus and a physical keyboard). the iPod probably taught Apple you need a proper "finger based" UI for this kind of devices - especially for the consumer market - and multitouch solved a lot of problems.

        I don't know exactly why Nokia failed, but it wasn't because their smart phones were "phone centric". The N900, N810 and N800 are to this day far more "little computers" than any other smartphone so far. Indeed, as they ran a Debian Linux derivative with a themed Enlightenment based desktop, which is pretty much off the shelf Linux software. While they didn't have multitouch, you could use your finger on the apps no problem. It had a stylus for when you wanted extra precision though.

        I could apt-get (with some sources tweaking) what I wanted outside of their apps. You could also compile and run proper Linux desktop apps on it, including openoffice (back in the day). It ran like a dog and didn't fit the "mobile-UI" they created, but it worked.

        It also had a proper X server, so I could forward any phone app to my big PC if I didn't feel like messing about on a small touchscreen. To this day I miss this ability. To just connect via SSH to my phone over wifi, run an smartphone app, and have it appear on my desktop like any other app would.

        It had xterm, it had Perl built in, it had Python (a lot of it was written in Python), you even could install a C toolchain on it and develop C code on it. People ported standard desktop UIs on it, and with a VNC/RDP server you could use it as a portable computer just fine (just connect to it using a thin client, or a borrowed PC).

        I had written little scripts to batch send New years SMS to contacts, and even piped the output of "fortune" to a select few numbers just for kicks (the days with free SMS, and no chat apps). To this day I have no such power on my modern phones.

        Damn, now that I think back, it really was a powerful piece of kit. I actually still miss the features *sniff*

        And now that I think about it, In fact I suspect they failed because their phones were too much "little computers" at a time when people wanted a phone. Few people (outside of geeks) wanted to fiddle with X-forwarding, install SSH, script/program/modify, or otherwise customise their stuff.

        Arguably the one weakest app on the N900 was the phone application itself, which was not open source, so could not be improved by the community, so much so people used to say it wasn't really a phone, rather it was a computer with a phone attached, which is exactly what I wanted.

    3. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: "opinion pieces don't need to be balanced"

      "I am no fan of Apple, but to state that something was invented by the State because everyone involved went to state-funded school is a kindergarten-level of thinking that has no place in reasoned argument."

      Everything from kindergarten to university is NOT state funded - it is tax payer funded. So you are correct to say that argument is wrong, but even if it was right, it would still be wrong.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Uhhhh

      There wasn't even a great app store at the beginning. It was more of a feature phone with something new (a touch screen).

    5. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: Apple invented everything...

      "Microsoft had Smartphone 2002 and Pocket PC 2000 which were eventually merged into Windows Mobile and, interface aside, were vastly superior to the iPhone's iOS."

      I had to evaluate every phone technology available in 2002 for a government agency. I'm sorry to say that you're wrong by a country mile.

      The weak spot for Microsoft was that it decided to run telephony in the application layer. This meant that any problem with the OS would result in telephony being lost. Symbian provided a telephone which could function as a computer. The telephony was a low-level service and even if the OS crashed completely you could still make and receive calls. Apple adopted the same architecture, interface and telephony are low level services which are difficult to kill.

      Does it matter? Well, I recall the anecdote of the Italian journalist pleased as could be with his shiny new Windows phone. He told me lots of times about how great it was. Right up until the day he went skiing and broke his leg. He was off the piste by a few tens of metres and people were passing by not seeing him, so he dialled for help (118 medical emergency) BSOD. After several attempts he realised that he wasn't going to get through on 118, so he tried all the emergency numbers 112, 113, 115, 116 and even 1515 for a forest fire. Every time the phone BSOD'd. He tried turning it off an on again - no use. He tried to call his wife, best friend etc, BSOD. He ended up screaming at the top of his voice for over an hour until someone heard him. The phone ended up in the bin and he went back to a boring Nokia because at least it worked as a phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple invented everything...

        "Microsoft had Smartphone 2002 and Pocket PC 2000....... BSOD......"

        Smartphone and Pocket PC, didn't have a BSOD. If it broke, the screen usually went white.

      2. nedge2k

        Re: Apple invented everything...

        Lotaresco, I used to review a lot of the devices back in the day, as well as using them daily and modifying them (my phone history for ref: http://mowned.com/nedge2k). Not once did they ever fail to make a phone call. Maybe the journalist was biased and made it up (Symbian was massively under threat at the time and all sorts of bullshit stories were flying about), maybe he had dodgy hardware, who knows. Either way, it doesn't mean that the OS as a whole wasn't superior to what Nokia and Apple produced - because in every other way, it was.

      3. imaginarynumber

        Re: Apple invented everything...

        @Lotaresco

        "The weak spot for Microsoft was that it decided to run telephony in the application layer. This meant that any problem with the OS would result in telephony being lost....

        Symbian provided a telephone which could function as a computer. The telephony was a low-level service and even if the OS crashed completely you could still make and receive calls. Apple adopted the same architecture, interface and telephony are low level services which are difficult to kill."

        Sorry, but if iOS (or symbian) crashes you cannot make calls.

        In what capacity were you evaluating phones in 2002?

        I cannot recall ever seeing a Windows Mobile blue screen.It would hang from time to time, but it never blue screened.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Impartiality

      "Calls out someone for not being impartial... then refers to searching the internet by using "Google" as a verb..."

      So what? Hoover, Sellotape etc.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Impartiality

        Xerox. Kleenex. Scotch tape.

        ...Crapper.

    7. graeme leggett

      Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

      It does broadcast the RI lectures, though.

    8. prismatics

      Re: I thought I invented it.

      Except that iPhone is based on Mac (and OS X) technology and was far more complex to achieve due to constrained battery size, processing power which was not much to speak of and a new user interface paradigm where the user can touch the content. This kind of responsive UI didn't exist back then. One engineer from apple once told that they had to implement the camera in such a way that the phone would take a picture about 0.25 seconds in advance of the user pressing the camera capture button because of slow hardware. But things have changed now, as apple develops most of its own hardware from scratch.

      1. LDS Silver badge
        Joke

        "phone would take a picture about 0.25 seconds in advance of the user pressing the camera button"

        Which kind of predictive technology it used? Shutter lags has been a problem (and for some, still is) for many digital cameras.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: I thought I invented it.

        they had to implement the camera in such a way that the phone would take a picture about 0.25 seconds in advance of the user pressing the camera capture button

        So they had to invent a time machine?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "phone would take a picture about 0.25 seconds in advance..."

          Apple figured out how see 0.25 seconds in the future, but due to the processing requirements of the temporal shifts, it reacts 1 second after it actually happens.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I thought I invented it.

          No, just constantly buffer record a film. When the user presses the button you take an earlier frame from the buffer.

          I think this has now been exposed to the user as each iPhone photo is actually a short film.

    9. Emmeran

      Re: I thought I invented it.

      Shortly there-after I duct-taped 4 of them together and invented the tablet.

      My version of it all is that the glory goes to iTunes for consumer friendly interface (ignore that concept Linux guys) and easy music purchases, the rest was natural progression and Chinese slave labor.

      Smart phones and handheld computers were definitely driven by military dollars world wide but so was the internet. All that fact shows is that a smart balance of Capitalism & Socialism can go a long way.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: I thought I invented it.

        " smart balance of Capitalism & Socialism can go a long way"

        Is that why all the cool technology came from the East Block?

    10. Anonymous IV
      FAIL

      Re: Impartiality

      @luminous

      That's the second post you've made on this matter - with the same text!

      If you're attempting to restrict the word 'Google' to being a noun, I'm afraid that train left many years ago.

      From SearchEngineWatch: "29 Jun 2006 - “Google” is now officially a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary. Google already is a verb in some other dictionaries, but the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is considered the most authoritative dictionary of the English language."

    11. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: I thought I invented it.

      Hmm, I thought that too. Does that mean it's so obvious as to be unpatentable?

    12. xeroks

      Re: Invention of iPhone

      The ground breaking elements of the iPhone were all to do with usability:

      The fixed price data tariff was - to me - the biggest innovation. It may have been the hardest to do, as it involved entrenched network operators in a near monopoly. The hardware engineers only had to deal with the laws of physics.

      The apple store made it easy to purchase and install apps and media. Suddenly you didn't have to be a geek or an innovator to make your phone do something useful or fun that the manufacturer didn't want to give to everyone.

      The improved touch interface, the styling, and apple's cache all helped, and, I assume, fed into the efforts to persuade the network operators to give the average end user access to data without fear.

    13. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Apple invented everything...

      Yup, I had Windows based smartphones made by Qtek and HTC, and my first smartphone was an Orange SPV M2000 (a Qtek 9090 ) three years before the first iPhone, and I had a O2 XDA after that, which in 2006, had GPS, MMS, and an SD card slot, which held music for my train commute.

      Now I'm a fan of the Note series, I had one capacitive screen smartphone without a stylus (HTC HD2), and missed it too much.

      1. imaginarynumber

        Re: Invention of iPhone

        "The fixed price data tariff was - to me - the biggest innovation".

        In my experience, the iphone killed the "all you can eat" fixed price data tariffs

        I purchased a HTC Athena (T-Mobile Ameo) on a T-Mobile-Web and Walk contract in Feb 2007. I had unlimited 3.5G access (including tethering) and fixed call minutes/texts.

        When it was time to upgrade, I was told that iphone 3G users were using too much data and that T-Mobile were no longer offering unlimited internet access.

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Invention of iPhone

        "The apple store made it easy to purchase and install apps and media. Suddenly you didn't have to be a geek or an innovator to make your phone do something useful or fun that the manufacturer didn't want to give to everyone."

        And update the software/os!

        I remember what an absolute nightmare it was to update my Nokia, not to mention trying to find any usable app at all. And trying to keep purchased apps available for the future was impossible.

        Unlike Apple's ecosystem.

        People just don't remember how bad it was before Apple changed everything, and Google copied them.

    14. Andy Taylor

      Re: Hmmm....iPhone 1.0

      The original iPhone definitely has a proximity sensor. It is possible that your wife's phone was faulty or there was a software issue.

      If anyone has an original iPhone running iOS 1.x, please let me know.

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm....iPhone 1.0

        "...The original iPhone definitely has a proximity sensor. It is possible that your wife's phone was faulty or there was a software issue...."

        Have an upvote - hers definitely never worked (and at the time I didn't even know it was supposed to be there), so yeah, probably faulty. I'd just assumed it didn't have one.

    15. MrXavia

      Re: Invention of iPhone

      "Those were the days, by the way, when phones were for making calls but all that was about to change."

      I remember having a motorola A920 way back in 2003/2004 maybe, and on that I made video calls, went online, had a touch interface, ran 'apps', watched videos.... in fact I could do everything the iPhone could do and more... BUT it was clunky and the screen was not large... the iPhone was a nice step forward in many ways but also a step back in functionality

    16. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uhhhh

      I personally am not fond of Apple because they produce fashion items and rely and encourage on "Oh, that's LAST YEARS iToy" <shock, gasp, sneer> from their iPeople to get the userbase to upgrade, rather than what I consider a more usual upgrade path.

      I do my best to ignore the whole fashion thing, and the people involved. Personally I prefer intellectual pursuits and the discussion of ideas, as opposed to drink, drugs, fashion and the discussion of celebrities. From my point of view, iThings seem to be more of a symbol of the latter than the former.

    17. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I thought I invented it.

      Meh, where were you kids when I taped my Sony Walkman and Motorola DynaTAC together?

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Uhhhh

        @AC

        I like to get dressed up all fancy ass, get seriously seriously hammered on rum, and have long intellectual conversations with my good friends and my dog about all sorts of things, including pretentious holier than thou celebrities.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Invention of iPhone

        Some lovely lady who used to work at Apple Education lent me an iPod for the day whilst she worked on some finance deal with our college. The big HDD based one that was an early pre-production model. It was the next big thing she said. The portable Minidisc killer. When she got back and asked me what I thought I said "Meh. Now if it had an FM receiver in it as well..." She said there was a WiFi connecting version in the pipeline and that FM was going to be dead in a few years, to be replaced by Digital Radio and radio over the WiFi. I scoffed and said good luck.

    18. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

      "The BBC doesn't "do" engineering "

      CEEFAX, PAL Colour TV, 625 line transmissions, The BBC 'B', Satellite Broadcasting, Digital Services, the iPlayer, micro:bit, Smart TV services.

      There's also the work that the BBC did in improving loudspeakers including the BBC LS range. That work is one reason that British loudspeakers are still considered among the world's best designs.

      By all means kick the BBC, but keep it factual.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

        They've got their finger in another pie I thought. something recent and to do with 10k UUUUHD or some such shizzle.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

        Oh and NICAM don't forget.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

        Nope - not any more they dont - its pretty much all outsourced to Ericsson Broadcast and Media Services (EBMS), formerly Red Bee Media - which was the spunoff part of auntie that did all the cool engineering stuff....

      4. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

        The BBC does not broadcast anything technical to it's audience. Tomorrows World is long gone as is the BBC Micro. The BBC could do a TV series on the Raspberry PI but that would be going back to the golden age of technical stuff on the Beeb.

      5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

        Why not mention the fantastic DAB as well? Whops..

        Perhaps the big 3D rollout? Ouch..

        Can they, thanks to their superior technical knowledge and clout at least make hardware manufacturers support seamless switch to 50p? No.. not that either.

        But they can make an iPlayer that has big pink play icons obscuring any images you might want to see.

        At least they have a bottomless pit of money they can spend on iPlayer..

        I don't think BBC is what it used to be.

      6. JPeasmould

        Re: Engineering change at the BBC?

        That was in the days that the BBC trained its own engineers and technicians.

        Even buying audio mixing consoles, they would ask for alterations in the circuits and get the manufacturers to produce to their spec (see SSL E series schematics from the eighties), even if it was only an additional resistor here or there.

        I wonder how many freelancers and contractors they use now to cover what once was done in-house.

    19. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      I too have watched Connections many times. Also The Day The Universe Changed.

    20. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: Was it delicious served cold?

      Yeah, I noticed that too. I figured it was my own inability to count to three due to my American public education.

    21. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: In a State

      Does it follow from Ms Mazzucato's thesis that someone educated at the public expense who later goes out and kills someone is committing state-sponsored terrorism?

    22. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple invented everything...

      Very much a case of one opinion versus another. My early experience with these convinced me that MS couldn't make a useful phone OS to save itself. Slow, buggy, and not useful.

      The market appears to have largely agreed because at the time Apple introduced the original iPhone the competition was essentially either your standard Nokia that was a phone with a few add-ons; or a Blackberry.

      After that I did spend rather too much time trying to make Blackberry Enterprise Server work properly with a mix of early Android, iPhone, and Blackberry devices. In retrospect the major problem was probably the inconsistent behaviour of the early Samsung (mostly) Android devices running Android versions from 1.7 to 2.3 or so, just about impossible to consistently get them to connect.I don't miss the frustrations of those days.

    23. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: "opinion pieces don't need to be balanced"

      "I am no fan of Apple, but to state that something was invented by the State because everyone involved went to state-funded school is a kindergarten-level of thinking that has no place in reasoned argument."

      It's actually "Intellectual Yet Idiot" level thinking. Google it. Your right that arguments of this sort of calibre have no place in reasoned argument, but the presence of this sort of quality thinking being shoved down peoples throats by media is why a hell of a lot of people are "fed up with experts".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "opinion pieces don't need to be balanced"

        "Your right that arguments of this sort of calibre have no place in reasoned argument, but the presence of this sort of quality thinking being shoved down peoples throats by media is why a hell of a lot of people are "fed up with experts"."

        Is it? Your so right.

    24. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      "First smartphone"

      For fun, I put "first smartphone" into Google. It wasn't Apple's. I think a BBC editor may have temporarily said that it was.

      As for Apple inventing the first multitouch smartphone, though -

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38552241 claims, with some credibility, that Apple's engineers wanted to put a keyboard on their phone. The Blackberry phone had a keyboard. But Steve Jobs wanted a phone that you could work with your finger (without a keyboard).

      One finger.

      If you're only using one finger, you're not actually using multi touch?

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: "First smartphone"

        "One finger.

        If you're only using one finger, you're not actually using multi touch?"

        It's optional, smartass.

    25. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: Who really invented the iPhone?

      Happens a lot. For example, X-ray was actually invented in the 14th century by a Russian peasant called Ivan Sosnov. He frequently yelled at his wife "I can see you through, you bitch!"

  22. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Diesel engine.

      A steam engine can be very efficient. What it cannot be is very efficient, light and cheap.

      So oil/alcohol engines won because they were easy to use, manufacture and CHEAP.

      Had the steam engine manufacturers invested properly, and many of the locomotives would have been steam based for a long time (proper steam seals, using oil as fuel, etc)

      1. Vic

        Re: Diesel engine.

        A steam engine can be very efficient

        It can't. All heat engines are thermodynamically limited to a peak maximum efficiency of 1 - TC/TH.

        For a steam engine, you're never going to get TH above about 400K, and TC is going to be around 300K, so you're left with a theoretical peak efficiency of about 25%.

        Vic.

  23. Steve Crook

    Unfounded optimism

    > We look forward to hearing how the BBC responds.

    Don't hold your breath. If they respond at all, it will be to explain patiently (and slowly) that they were right and he was wrong.

    On another note, surely it's neither the state nor inventors that are responsible for these inventions, but the ancestors of those who gave birth to them. They own the genes. But then of course the flying spaghetti monster created everything, so perhaps it's the true innovator.

  24. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Now what?

    Somebody playing silly buggers?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/01/09/apple_/

  25. Truth4u

    patent wars

    Patents are a huge economic drain. So much money and unproductive effort goes into patent acquisition, followed inevitably by patent dick wars. The final proof of this is the acquisition of large patent libraries to be used by big corporations in a Mutually Assured Destruction scenario, where the big businesses cannot sue each other without fear of reproach, but they can sue (only) the small businesses that are the real innovators in our economy.

    I must have written thousands of words on why parents are bad over the years, and finally people are coming around. Mark Cuban of Shark Tank knows this, because, just like me, Mark is not an idiot.

    1. Vic
      Joke

      Re: patent wars

      I must have written thousands of words on why parents are bad over the years

      Larkin was much more succinct.

      Vic.

      1. Truth4u

        Re: patent wars

        Yes well,

        when I see these poor souls on Dragon's den who have remortgaged to pay patent lawyers, they are basically on the show begging for some money in exchange for some patent, and how often does it work?

        When you see someone sleeping on the street, you don't think they must have been on Dragon's Den, but when you see someone sleeping in a car with a suit hanging in the back.

        Well anyway, I think this patent thing is very silly. But I don't have to worry because I'm a software engineer and Richard F--king Stallman baby.

  26. richardcox13
    FAIL

    Andrew Orlowski ... BBC

    Given Andrew's established position on the BBC, as much as Tim Harford's position maybe questionable (and, given his position as an economist, more about pointing out that "obvious truths" often are not), I suspect that no party in this is being objective.

    Perhaps if this was written by someone without such an established anti-BBC history had written it one might give it more credence.

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Andrew Orlowski ... BBC

      Some weird logic there, richardcox13.

    2. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Andrew Orlowski ... BBC

      It is unfair to snipe on Andrew for no reason whatsoever.

    3. smartypants

      Re: Andrew Orlowski ... BBC

      Royal Institution's motto: "Nullius in verba". - Take nobody's word for it

      They had that worked out in 1663. It can't be that hard for us to pick through this story and decide whether the article is fair or not based on something more than our personal views of the journalists?

      Perhaps reason is not hard, but now unfashionable, what with 2016 having happened etc...

  27. IGnatius T Foobar

    statism at its propagandic best

    Sounds suspiciously like Barack Osama's famous "you didn't build that" speech. Pfooey.

  28. JohnnyH

    Maybe the Beeb should ask Guy Kewney

  29. juice Bronze badge

    Apple invented the iPhone...

    ... in the same way that Ford invented the Model T, Sony invented the Walkman or Nintendo invented the Wii. They took existing technologies, iterated and integrated them, and presented them in the right way in the right place at the right time.

    And that's been true of pretty much every invention since someone discovered how to knap flint.

    As to how much of a part the state had to play: a lot of things - especially in the IT and medical field - have been spun out of military research, though by the same token, much of this is done by private companies funded by government sources.

    Equally, a lot of technology has been acquired through trade, acquisition or outright theft. In WW2, the United Kingdom gave the USA a lot of technology via the Tizard mission (and later, jet-engine technology was also licenced), and both Russia and the USA "acquired" a lot of rocket technology by picking over the bones of Germany's industrial infrastructure. Then, Russia spent the next 40 years stealing whatever nuclear/military technology it could from the USA - though I'm sure some things would have trickled the other way as well!

    Anyway, if you trace any modern technology back far enough, there will have been state intervention. That shouldn't subtract in any way from the work done by companies and individuals who have produced something where the sum is greater than the parts...

  30. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    The holidays are over

    Could we perhaps put "fake news" out to the curb with the dried-out Christmas tree? There are any number of descriptions for this sort of thing, and "fake news" seems to be adopted by all sides in any disagreement. Those using it imagine that it is the knockout punch that ends the fight or discussion right there. It does not, though some who deliver it think that they have won and can quit listening.

  31. Lotaresco Silver badge

    There is of course...

    .. the fact that the iPhone wouldn't exist without its screen and all LCD displays owe their existence to (UK) government sponsored research. So whereas I agree that Mazzucato is guilty of rabidly promoting an incorrect hypothesis to the status of fact, there is this tiny kernel of truth.

    The government was looking for a display technology for aircraft that was rugged, light, low powered and more reliable than CRTs. They also wanted to avoid the punitive royalties taken by RCA on CRTs. It was the work done in the 1960s by the Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern and George William Gray and his team at the University of Hull that led to modern LCDs. QinetiQ, which inherited RSRE's intellectual property rights, is still taking royalties on each display sold.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Apple invented the iPhone...

      ... in the same way that Ford invented the Model T, Sony invented the Walkman or Nintendo invented the Wii. They took existing technologies, iterated and integrated them, and presented them in the right way in the right place at the right time.

      And that's been true of pretty much every invention since someone discovered how to knap flint.

      Not so sure, Singer did a little more with respect to the sewing machine - his was the forst that actually worked. Likewise Marconi was the first with a working wireless. Yes both made extensive use of existing technology, but both clearly made that final inventive step; something that isn't so clear in the case of the examples you cite.

      Equally, a lot of technology has been acquired through trade, acquisition or outright theft.

      Don't disagree, although your analysis omitted Japanese and Chinese acquisition of 'western' technology and know-how...

      Anyway, if you trace any modern technology back far enough, there will have been state intervention.

      Interesting point, particularly when you consider the case of John Harrison, the inventor of the marine chronometer. Whilst the government did offer a financial reward it was very reluctant to actually pay anything out...

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: There is of course...

      I had a calculator in the late 1970s with an LCD display. It had no resemblance to my phone's display.

      Not even my first LCD screened laptop had much resemblance with a phone's display. That laptop had a colour display, in theory. If looked at at the right angle, in the correct light.

      Innovation is ongoing, and not defined by some initial stumbling attempts.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC are a joke

    It's very clear R* is on Apple Payroll, and someone is also taking Microsoft brown envelopes of late too, a recent Watchdog episode had "3 popular smart devices", a Microsoft Lumia, a Windows Phone and a Surface Tablet, and guess what digital assistant they used. Yep, Cortana.

    No Siri, No Google Now, no Samsung Galaxy, no iPhone, however all the functionality they were showing could already be done on these truly "popular devices". It was basically a Microsoft advert hidden in a consumer show, and the BBC seemed to think it was perfectly OK when I pointed out marketshare of these devices, and that they were all from a single vendor.... They had toe audacity to claim the devices were randomly picked from a list of popular consumer products.. LOL

  33. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Apple invented the iPhone, but not the smartphone.

    The smartphone had been showed before inseveral incarnations, including the "all touch screen" several years before Apple decided to dabble in smartphones. So no invention here.

    As for the experience, again, nothing new. Al thought of before, in good part even implemented.

    The key here is that Steve Jobs had the guts to force the thought of a useful smartphone, gadget for the user first and phone second into the minds of the Telcos, and he was the one to get unlimited/big data bundles.

    He identified correctly, as many had before but before the power to do anything about it, that the customers are the final users, not the telcos.

    The rest of the smartphones were culled before birth by the Telecomm industry, as they demanded certain "features" that nobody wanted but lined their pockets nicely with minumum investment.

    So I thank Steve Jobs for that and for being able to buy digital music.

    1. Richard Tobin

      Thank Jobs for digital music?

      I've been buying digital music since the 1980s, on CDs.

  34. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Could a better article...

    Well yes, could really have avoided doing yet another pro-apple marketing campaign entirely

    The BBC is supposed to report news not indulge in promoting (foreign) products.

    It told us that the iPhone was the worlds first smartphone (it was clearly not - Microsoft had one, Symbian had spawned any number from different manufacturers and even Blackberry ticked all the the smartphone boxes).

    True the iPhone store was probably the best on the market at the time but most of the other phones had the features needed and the iPhone needed the store to add to the fairly basic apps provided.

    The BBC has shamelessly promoted iPhone ever since its launch, in so doing it has put something over 2000 highly experienced and competent BRITISH engineers and a number of managers out of work... or at least into different companies where their presence stops other people being employed... same difference for the unemployment bill.

    The BBC even today is now on about how the developers sweated bullets... tell me a dev in any company that ever actually delivered that didn't sweat bullets, I know I did more than a few late nights and weekends.

    1. smartypants

      Re: Could a better article...

      "The BBC has shamelessly promoted iPhone ever since its launch, in so doing it has put something over 2000 highly experienced and competent BRITISH engineers and a number of managers out of work... or at least into different companies where their presence stops other people being employed"

      This is the sort of gordion knot argument which is becoming increasingly popular in Theresa May's Brave New World.

      Suffer those (presumably non british - sorry - NON BRITISH!!!!) people who are no longer able to be employed thanks to the british you allude to having taken their jobs!

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Could a better article...

      "The BBC has shamelessly promoted iPhone ever since its launch, in so doing it has put something over 2000 highly experienced and competent BRITISH engineers and a number of managers out of work... or at least into different companies where their presence stops other people being employed... same difference for the unemployment bill."

      You mean, just like Clarkson killed British Leyland? Not because BL made crap that no-one wanted any longer? The horrid Japs did the same to the US quality manufacturers of massive steel contraptions. Oh, all those horrible forriner manufacturers.

  35. John 104

    Rewrite history?

    how does Fake History gradually supersede the reality-based version? It's through repetition

    You mean, like saying that climate change is settled science? Say it enough times and it must be true! Never mind that pesky scientific method...

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Rewrite history?

      "You mean, like saying that climate change is settled science? Say it enough times and it must be true! Never mind that pesky scientific method..."

      Oh, yeah? Do please tell us about that particular "scientific method"?

  36. Donn Bly

    The iPhone was not invented by Apple

    The iPhone was not invented by Apple - particularly because it wasn't an INVENTION at all. It was a well-received innovation in an existing market.

  37. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    This just in: BBC News Manager accidentally publishes elaborate spoof article intended for April First release while demonstrating software to Director: "Six month's work and I don't know how much in taxpayer-funded post-production up in smoke all because some bloody numpty in a suit wanted to impress his boss" says technician who wishes to remain anonymous.

  38. Mike 16 Silver badge

    IIRC, it was Cisco

    that "invented" the iPhone, or at least named one of their products that, and Trademarked the name, so Jobs et al. had to buy the name from them.

    Of course, I could be misremembering, but I can't be arsed to check facts, as that is now an occupation up there with flint knapping and spinning on a drop spindle.

    BTW: on the "but it needed a screen" front, I was struck by a mental image of a lovely orange plasma-panel smartphone. Maybe with a chorded keyboard built into the side... Of course battery life would be dire, but modern smartphones have added that feature on their own.

    1. imaginarynumber

      Re: IIRC, it was Cisco

      Indeed, Cisco still owns the rights to the names iPhone and iOS (in the USA).

      http://blogs.cisco.com/news/cisco_and_apple_agreement_on_ios_trademark

  39. Blotto
    Facepalm

    Guardian interview

    This must be his interview piece for the guardian

  40. razorfishsl

    Yes.. over at the DM they seem to be playing the same game....

    Could it be that shill news is the new big money maker

  41. veti Silver badge

    Can we please stop using "fake news"

    ... as a buzzword for anything from "groundless propaganda" to "spin that we personally disagree with"?

    Or in this specific case, "historical revisionism"?

    Real stories are complex, and there are many ways of looking at this one. Harford does make a valid point, even if he massively overstates it. To pretend that the iPhone sprang like Athena, perfectly formed from the head of Steve "Zeus" Jobs, is just as wankerly as the BBC's own bollocks.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Can we please stop using "fake news"

      We're using it ironically.

      C.

  42. martinusher Silver badge

    Smartphones predated Apple by a good few years

    The first recognizable smartphone I handled was, if I remember correctly, branded as a Compaq and dated from the early 2000s. Like other handhelds from that period it was primarily a PDA so it was geared to being a portable peripheral for your (Windows) business PC -- it ran Windows CE, it had Office interconnectivity and it, well, sucked. It was also rather expensive and had a short battery life -- color LCD displays from that era were not that good.

    Apple's true innovation was to marry phone functions with the iPod, something that was primarily an entertainment device rather than a business product. They realized that users wanted not just a phone but also some way of making their iPod communicate. Nokia was stumbling in the same general direction with their N700 series but Apple's execution was flawless, they understood the value of an entertainment ecosystem. Apple don't originate technology but they're very good at aggregating it into well designed products that fill a marketing niche. Unfortunately there's a tendency for both companies like Apple and Microsoft to pretend that they invented computing -- so now its just assumed that Apple invented smartphones, tablets and what-have-you.

  43. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I knew it!

    We should never have removed that RS232 port from the specs.

    Those Chinese USB to serial adapters are not reliable at all!

  44. Dave 15 Silver badge

    BBC think their report was accurate...

    Dear Mr Hitchman

    Reference CAS-4170032-MKB98M

    Thank you for contacting us regarding the BBC News website.

    I understand you unhappy with our article 'Sweating bullets' - The inside story of the first iPhone'.

    Having reviewed the article, we do not suggest that the first iPhone was the first smartphone. Rory Cellan-Jones looked back at his experience at the first launch and responded to criticism:

    'A Sunday newspaper columnist described me as having clutched the phone as if it were "a fragment of the true cross", and some viewers complained that the BBC had given undue prominence to a product launch.

    I appeared on the Newswatch programme to defend our reporting and said that some products did merit coverage because they promised a step change in the way we lived - and I mused on whether the Model T Ford would have been a story if we'd had a TV news bulletin back then.

    Afterwards, I rather regretted saying that - who knew whether the iPhone would really prove as revolutionary as the arrival of mass car ownership? But today that comparison does not look so outlandish.'

    As the BBC's Technology Correspondent, Rory is expected to provide his own analysis of stories in the technology sector. He is well aware of our commitment to impartiality and simply seeks to provide enough information for our audience to make up their own minds.

    In regards to your comments about the BBC being biased in favour of Apple, we cover a wide range of products and companies on the BBC News Tech section. Recently we featured Oxbotica, who have developed the Lutz Pathfinder, driverless car:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-38569166

    I appreciate you may continue to disagree.

    Your feedback is important to us and your concerns have been placed on an overnight report. This document is made available to senior management and the BBC News website team. This report can be used to inform future content decisions, so please be assured that your complaint has been sent to the right people.

    Thanks again for getting in touch.

    Kind regards

    David Currie

    BBC Complaints Team

    www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

    NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

  45. imaginarynumber

    "Fentem created the multitouch technology essential to modern touchscreen interfaces"

    Did he?

    Fentem tells us that the was working on multi-touch back in 2002. He provides a link to a video from 2007 in which he demonstrates his 2003/2004 multi-touch prototype music controller.

    Although I have no reason to doubt Mr Fentem, according to other pioneers, such as Bill Buxton, Fentem failed to publish anything that demonstrated his early work.

    http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html

    If Buxton is correct, then how can Fentem have influenced the development of early multi-touch devices?

    AFAIK the first commercial product to offer 10 point multi-touch support was the 2003/4 JazzMutant Lemur music controller.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20041016212747/http://www.jazzmutant.com/lemur_features.php

    Did Fentem work with JazzMutant, did JazzMutant have access to Fentem's work?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019