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The One Device
Cover of The One Device
The One Device
The Secret History of the iPhone
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The secret history of the invention that changed everything-and became the most profitable product in the world.
"The One Device is a tour de force, with a fast-paced edge and heaps of analytical insight."-Ashlee Vance, New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk
"A stunning book. You will never look at your iPhone the same way again." -Dan Lyons, New York Times bestselling author of Disrupted
Odds are that as you read this, an iPhone is within reach. But before Steve Jobs introduced us to "the one device," as he called it, a cell phone was merely what you used to make calls on the go.
How did the iPhone transform our world and turn Apple into the most valuable company ever? Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won't hear from Cupertino-based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors, and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone's creation.
This deep dive takes you from inside One Infinite Loop to 19th century France to WWII America, from the driest place on earth to a Kenyan pit of toxic e-waste, and even deep inside Shenzhen's notorious "suicide factories." It's a firsthand look at how the cutting-edge tech that makes the world work-touch screens, motion trackers, and even AI-made their way into our pockets.
The One Device is a roadmap for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age, and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything.
The secret history of the invention that changed everything-and became the most profitable product in the world.
"The One Device is a tour de force, with a fast-paced edge and heaps of analytical insight."-Ashlee Vance, New York Times bestselling author of Elon Musk
"A stunning book. You will never look at your iPhone the same way again." -Dan Lyons, New York Times bestselling author of Disrupted
Odds are that as you read this, an iPhone is within reach. But before Steve Jobs introduced us to "the one device," as he called it, a cell phone was merely what you used to make calls on the go.
How did the iPhone transform our world and turn Apple into the most valuable company ever? Veteran technology journalist Brian Merchant reveals the inside story you won't hear from Cupertino-based on his exclusive interviews with the engineers, inventors, and developers who guided every stage of the iPhone's creation.
This deep dive takes you from inside One Infinite Loop to 19th century France to WWII America, from the driest place on earth to a Kenyan pit of toxic e-waste, and even deep inside Shenzhen's notorious "suicide factories." It's a firsthand look at how the cutting-edge tech that makes the world work-touch screens, motion trackers, and even AI-made their way into our pockets.
The One Device is a roadmap for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age, and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything.
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About the Author-
  • Brian Merchant is the senior editor of Motherboard, VICE's science and technology outlet, the founder/editor of Terraform, its online fiction outlet, and his work has appeared in the Guardian, Slate, Vice Magazine, Salon, Fast Company, Discovery, GOOD, Paste, Grist, and beyond.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2017
    Wide-ranging history of the iPhone, which might just be "the pinnacle product of all of capitalism to this point."Some of Vice science and tech editor Merchant's account of the development of what Steve Jobs called "the one device," the life-unifying little computer that one could carry in one's pocket and incidentally use as a telephone, is a little scattershot. It contributes little to the story to recap the history of "line-of-sight semaphores" and other signaling technologies, for instance. When the author settles in to the facts of the phone itself, though, he delivers a solid if formulaic business history, complete with the trope that a single charismatic leader--Jobs, in this case--seldom acts alone but instead has a team backing the "chief proselytizer." In the case of the iPhone, that team was made up of hungry engineers and designers who were avid for the project and wanted to make something that would be not just insanely great, but attractive, with a handsome user interface and a lot of power. The dream team included "an MIT-trained sensor savant with an ear for electronica and a feel for touchscreens" and "a decorated and respected designer intent on marrying industrial design to digital interfaces." Despite the usual stumbling blocks, they succeeded well beyond expectation. Merchant has a good handle on the technology--how, for instance, accelerometers and magnetometers play in the development of truly smart smartphones--and a good feel for the archly competitive, sometimes oddly monastic culture of Apple. He also does not shy away from the darker aspects of the technology, including working conditions at Chinese manufacturing facilities that border on slave labor. Merchant's story takes sometimes-unexpected turns, but in the end, he paints a thoughtful portrait of how a piece of reigning technology became ubiquitous in just a decade, for good and ill.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    June 1, 2017
    As much as Appleand Steve Jobs, in particularwanted people to believe they invented the smartphone all by themselves, it just ain't so. Smartphones, in fact, date back to 1992 (IBM's groundbreaking and now all-but-forgotten Simon), and the fundamental ideas behind the technology go back even further, to the late nineteenth century. The iPhone, announced with great fanfare in 2007, simply put a new and exciting spin on a preexisting phenomenon. This riveting book (which was not authorized by Apple, although Merchant did speak to some key players) busts the myth of Jobs as a lone inventor who single-handedly created a world-changing device. It's a globe-trotting history that takes us to the tin mines of Bolivia to the labs at Corning to the lithium mines of Chile (to name just a few stops along the way), and lets us hear from some of the innovators who created the elements that Apple would adapt for the iPhone. A fascinating and often surprising book.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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The Secret History of the iPhone
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