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On the iPhone's fifth birthday, a look back at an icon's debut

January 9, 2012 |  8:21 pm


Five years ago, on Jan. 9th 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone.

He didn't start talking about the phone right away. Instead, he spent the first 20 minutes teasing the crowd with stories about the iPod nano, the success of iTunes and the number of movies and television shows downloaded on Apple TV -- building anticipation.

He ragged on Microsoft's recently released Zune, which he joyfully told his audience had only snagged 2% of the market for MP3 players.

Then, as Engadget live blogged at the time, he said "Ahem."

And finally, he gave the people what they wanted.

Jobs described the phone as three products in one -- an iPod player, a mobile phone and an Internet communications device.

He gloated about how the new phone eschewed both a keypad and a stylus and took advantage of the "best pointing device in the world -- our fingers."

"We have invented a new technology called multi-touch," he said. "It works like magic, you don't need a stylus, far more accurate than any interface ever shipped, it ignores touches, multi-finger gestures, and BOY have we patented it!"

Then he took his enthusiastic audience through the phone's functionality -- its compatibility with iTunes, the weather app, the Google maps, the ease of making a phone call right from one's contact list.

Ever the showman, Jobs demonstrated that last bit by making a live call to Phil Schiller on stage.

The iPhone wouldn't be shipped to stores for six more months, but those who were there were smitten.

"They may have created a new category," Tim Bajarin, president of consulting firm Creative Strategies, told the Los Angeles Times the day of the event. "Instead of smartphone, how about 'brilliant' phone? This redefines what a cellphone looks like."


Apple looms large over the Consumer Electronics Show

CES 2012: Bikn aims to be new lost-and-found for iPhone

CES 2012: GoPano Micro gives iPhone 4 a 360-degree view

-- Deborah Netburn

Photo: Steve Jobs introduces the Apple iPhone during his keynote address at MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco on Jan. 9, 2007. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press