The first iPhone prototype: an uncommon watch at Apple’s crimson M68 – The Verge
Apple’s red iPhone M68 in all its glory “This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two and half years,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s late CEO, as he introduced the original iPhone on January 9th, 2007. Apple had developed the iPhone in secret over those two and a half years, and for many…


Apple’s crimson iPhone M68 in all its glory

“Right here’s a day I’ve been having a dwell up for for 2 and half years,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s dull CEO, as he launched the long-established iPhone on January 9th, 2007.

Apple had developed the iPhone in secret over those two and a half years, and for many in the midst of the company, the tool had most productive been identified by the codenames “M68” and “Red 2.” Apple was as soon as centered on handsome every person with the iPhone, and that supposed that quite a bit of the engineers working on the long-established handset didn’t even know what it would sooner or later watch esteem.

To gain that stage of secrecy, Apple created special prototype fashion boards that contained practically the total iPhone’s parts, spread out at some stage in a mountainous circuit board. The Verge has obtained uncommon access to the long-established iPhone M68 prototype board from 2006 / 2007, which capacity of Red M Sixty, a offer that requested to dwell anonymous. It’s the first time this board has been pictured publicly, and it provides a rare ancient watch at a important fragment of computing history, exhibiting how Apple developed the long-established iPhone.

At the originate look, the crimson iPhone M68 prototype board looks esteem a motherboard you’d catch interior a PC from higher than 10 years previously. It’s roughly the identical size, but the ingredients are a cramped little bit of hundreds of. Apple developed this explicit board, an engineering validation test (EVT) pattern, for engineers working totally on the tool and radio parts of the long-established iPhone. These developers wouldn’t know the ultimate form of the iPhone, and ceaselessly these boards had been even equipped with out the hide you’ll gaze linked in our uncommon photography. Apple most productive makes exhaust of crimson printed circuit boards for its prototype iPhone hardware, favoring blue, inexperienced, and hundreds of colors for production objects.

Graphic by Will Joel / The Verge

Whereas there’s no wide fan to chill the processor or banks of memory, the prototype does portion some the same ingredients to older PC hardware. There’s a serial connector at the pinnacle that was as soon as feeble to test iPod instruments for the reason that iPhone additionally feeble Apple’s 30-pin connector, and there’s even a LAN port for connectivity. Two Mini USB connectors flank the aspect of the board, which include been feeble by engineers to access the predominant iPhone utility processor and radio (baseband). Apple engineers would possibly presumably well well exhaust these Mini USB ports to code for the tool with out ever seeing the hide.

Loads of the engineers working with a board esteem this would include been accountable for porting Apple’s underlying Darwin working plot over to the iPhone. Darwin is a Unix-based working plot that contains a core role of ingredients that aid energy macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and audioOS. Apple referred to the developers who worked with Darwin as “Core OS engineers.” They had been accountable for the kernel, file systems, tool drivers, processor architectures, and a bunch of assorted well-known low-stage platform work. These engineers made definite the total well-known hardware and connectivity worked flawlessly.


The remainder of the iPhone prototype board is terribly hundreds of from a frequent PC. At the pinnacle, you’ll gaze a SIM card slot, and conclude by, there are two antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. These connect aid to the predominant radio I/O board, which looks associated to how it shipped in the ultimate long-established iPhone. This radio board involves chips from Intel, Infineon, CSR, Marvell, and Skyworks, exhibiting ethical how many companies Apple had to partner with to ship the long-established iPhone.

To the lawful of the radio board, you’ll gaze an RJ11 port, which is the identical registered jack that’s feeble by frequent landline phones. Apple feeble this so as that engineers would possibly presumably well well proceed a frequent landline phone headset into this iPhone fashion board and test disclose calls. You would possibly presumably well be ready to rep calls for your wrist at the second with the Apple Peer, but think relating to the excitement of making a call from a prototype iPhone fashion board aid in 2006.


At the heart of this prototype board is the coronary heart of the iPhone: Apple’s utility processor. Identified as a Samsung K4X1G153PC fragment, Apple feeble Samsung memory stacked with a 620MHz ARM processor (ARM1176JZF) to accelerate the iPhone working plot. It’s an constructed-in circuit packaging methodology identified as package deal on package deal (PoP), where the CPU is packaged on the underside and memory on high. Apple pairs this with a 4GB Samsung NAND card (K9HBG08U1M) for storage of the OS. The inexperienced NAND storage module is simply removable for developers, allowing them to snappy test hundreds of working plot versions and adjustments by simply plugging a fresh card in.

On this explicit fashion board, there’s even a hide, but the iPhone’s dwelling button (identified right here because the menu button) is mounted on the board to the left of the lisp, and the energy and quantity buttons are on the left-hand aspect of the board. We received a possibility to boot this prototype, and it simply powers up to the Apple logo. Engineers using this explicit board would include booted into something the same to a uncover instructed to test kernel adjustments. Our offer explains that you might presumably well well additionally build this to iTunes, in the course of the 30-pin connector on the aspect of the board, and it detects it as an iPhone ready to be restored.

In other locations on this board, you’ll gaze an total bunch white connectors with pins. The smaller ones are JTAG connectors feeble for low-stage debugging. Engineers would possibly presumably well well connect signal probes to those forms of connectors to video display hundreds of indicators and voltages, allowing developers to test key tool adjustments to the iPhone and make sure that they weren’t negatively impacting the hardware. Having the total ingredients on hand to test on a blown-out board esteem this additionally made it a lot more straightforward for engineers to set aside a switch and test it, in its put aside of interior a phone shell where you might presumably well well’t simply access ingredients with probes. There are additionally a differ of DIP switches to route debug indicators round hundreds of parts of the board for extra attempting out.

If an engineer interior Apple received a fashion board esteem this with out a hide, element video and RCA connectors on the aspect of the board would possibly presumably well well simply be feeble to construct it to a lisp. Engineers would possibly presumably well well additionally test headphone connectivity, which capacity of stereo line out ports on the aspect. Even the iPhone’s predominant digicam is mounted on the board for attempting out, and there’s a wide bid left to test the battery. If engineers didn’t include a battery linked, a DC connector at the pinnacle would possibly presumably well well be feeble for exterior energy. Apple additionally left room for what is marked as “prox flex” for proximity sensor attempting out.


It’s definite from this iPhone fashion board that Apple belief of all the pieces for engineers in the months sooner than its iPhone unveiling. Identical boards would include been feeble in 2006 and in the midst of 2007 in the lead-up to the June 29th open of the long-established iPhone.

Apple no longer makes exhaust of such mountainous boards for its iPhone fashion at the second. The corporate moved on to smaller boards for the iPhone Four, with mountainous and fat security shields on some extra most in fashion iPhone fashions. That enables iPhone developers to work on the ultimate form hardware in a case whereas the create is saved secret. A technique of assorted phone makers additionally exhaust the same wide circumstances in the ultimate fashion phases to abet issues below wraps.

This early prototype is a wide reminder of the mammoth work and secrecy that went into rising a tool that tens of millions of of us now elevate in their pockets every day. It’s rare to appear at such early examples of hardware esteem the iPhone, especially higher than 10 years after it was as soon as first developed.

Pictures by Tom Warren / The Verge