The Talk Show

339: ‘2006: Hard Work’, With Ken Kocienda


00:00:00   Ken Kishenda, welcome to the talk show. You're overdue.

00:00:02   A little bit. By how many years would you make it out to be?

00:00:07   Your book, let me actually check the copyright date. 2018.

00:00:11   So what time of the year in 2018 did creative selection come out?

00:00:14   It was September the third or fourth as I recall.

00:00:20   So what, three plus years late. Because, and I call the show the talk show, and I like to think

00:00:26   it is like a real talk show, but the whole point of actual most actual talk shows is that when you

00:00:33   have a guest with something to promote, if it's on the Stephen Colbert show or something like that,

00:00:38   and there's a movie, they'll have the actor come out right before or right when the movie first

00:00:43   hits theaters or in that would have made my publisher really happy. I can say the bright

00:00:49   side of that. I tell you though, the bright side of the publisher was very happy with you because

00:00:55   your link to the book was by far the best publicity that the book had. There was a huge bump

00:01:05   in pre-orders right after you linked. And I tell you a funny story about that is that I didn't know

00:01:11   that was going to happen. And my wife and I were in the car. We were driving down the coast towards

00:01:19   Santa Barbara for just a weekend getaway. And maybe we can look back at the date. Maybe it

00:01:24   was a Friday or a Saturday or something like that. So we were going into a part where I was

00:01:29   going to lose cell phone coverage. And I wasn't looking at my phone anyway, because my wife and I

00:01:33   were enjoying the conversation, enjoying our company, enjoying the beautiful scenery. And then

00:01:39   you link to my book. It's all Holy cow, wait a minute. I got to look at it. I got to read this,

00:01:46   what he said, and then be looking at what the feedback would be. And then it's like the

00:01:51   cell phone coverage dropped out from the hour. And it was a pretty agonizing hour, not knowing

00:01:57   what was going on in the virtual world when all of this beautiful scenery was going by in the

00:02:02   real world. And I couldn't pay attention to it. Thanks for that, John. I don't know. I don't know

00:02:07   where I'm not quite sure what to say. I cannot explain it. The way my mind works is inscrutable.

00:02:15   And I really did plan on having you on the show shortly after before around when the book came out.

00:02:21   And somehow felt overwhelmed because the book I really am not I'm not just saying this because

00:02:26   you're on the show right now. But I partly it was because the book is so good. And I didn't even

00:02:33   know where to start. And I'm going to tell you, here we are three and a half years later, I still

00:02:37   don't quite know where to start. But based on the piece I just published last night that I've been

00:02:43   working on for a while, let's let me just take my best stab right now at delineating the origin of

00:02:49   the iPhone and putting it into a timeline go. And I your tweets in response to the stuff that I you

00:02:57   know, it started a month ago, I'm assuming most people listening to this read my piece or at least

00:03:02   follow during fireball closely enough that they saw it because it was pretty big. But basically,

00:03:06   a month ago, there was a story came out about Facebook having two competing VRXR OS's for years

00:03:14   with hundreds of people working on this other one and then pulled the plug on it late last year.

00:03:19   And the executive in charge of it left to go to Google to head up AR VR XR and I offhandedly a

00:03:26   short post on during fireball compared it to the famed bake off at Apple in the early days of the

00:03:33   iPhone project between sort of a ground up Linux embedded OS sort of thing to make a phone versus

00:03:41   what we now know as iOS famously a sort of let's take Mac OS 10 and strip it down to make something

00:03:48   new that both performance wise can run on a tiny little cell phone of 2006 2007 era hardware,

00:03:56   which would be a hell of a thing to do with Mac OS 10 at the time, and redo the whole UI to work

00:04:02   with this new metaphor. Long story short, we all know how it turned out. But it was anyway,

00:04:06   my linking to it was a bad comparison. And we could start there. I think it's not all that bad,

00:04:12   because how many operating systems get started at all at companies that could realistically

00:04:21   finish it. And so it was an interesting story and an interesting occurrence at Facebook.

00:04:30   Obviously, they bet the whole at least the whole name of the company on on a future that is

00:04:39   different than their past. And Facebook just being an app and their future maybe being something more

00:04:46   like a platform kind of makes sense that you would want your own operating system. And so

00:04:51   the change in the direction of that is interesting. There is this story that maybe we're, you know,

00:04:59   going to get to the bottom of it a little bit more given your looking into it, and maybe some

00:05:05   of the stories that I can tell, but I think it's a perfectly interesting and valid analogy. Or maybe,

00:05:11   and maybe that's an analogy that it's maybe less of a comparison and more of a contrast.

00:05:16   But maybe I can thank you because that's what then led to us talking right now. I can't think

00:05:23   you really too much. But I do think it is an interesting comparison. And it would be interesting

00:05:28   if you could find people someday to come on and talk to you about the effort that went on

00:05:34   inside Facebook matter what led to their decision being what it is particularly of meta turns out to

00:05:40   be as successful as the iPhone was. Yeah, maybe here. Let me just take a break though, before we

00:05:45   get rolling and figure out how we're going to do this. Let me take a break right here and thank our

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00:07:44   promo code, the talk show. We can talk about remote work later too. That's been in the news

00:07:51   with Apple and is an interesting comparison. Oh, for sure. Particularly given my great preference

00:07:57   to work in person with people and trying to balance that out, given how the world has changed

00:08:04   over the last couple of years. Even just today, I was, and it's a Saturday that we're recording,

00:08:11   I went in extra to spend some time with Imran Chaudhry, my colleague, and he's one of the

00:08:18   co-founders at the company I'm working on now. And that's about all that I'm going to be able to say

00:08:24   about what I'm doing at Humane. That could be maybe a future topic for another visit with the

00:08:32   factor of how long it would take me to have you invite me back on. I can't maybe really speculate

00:08:39   how long that would be, but we have plenty to talk about now. I'd never known about it, the future,

00:08:44   but the past, what could I tell you about the book? Maybe even the process of writing the book.

00:08:50   I mean, one of the things I wanted to ask you about is that you're a writer. What is your idea

00:08:56   about whether you might write a book of your own someday, or is it just daring fireball? Is there

00:09:02   something about the format, the kind of blogging format that just fits you better as opposed to

00:09:09   something more long form? That's a tough question. I mean, I've obviously thought about it, but one

00:09:13   of the things I wanted to, and rereading your book and revisiting all of this, which now, you know,

00:09:20   let's face it, it's history, right? And it's like you get to a certain age, and I swear this

00:09:25   digression is going somewhere, but when you're young, let's just say right out of college, 22,

00:09:30   23, around that age, when you think about things that happened 20 years before that,

00:09:37   it feels like ancient history. And even if you were technically alive, like for me, like Nixon

00:09:42   resigning from the presidency, and I was like, I don't know, one and a half years old, it happened

00:09:47   in my lifetime, but it feels, I don't know, it felt like true history, like history with a capital H,

00:09:53   not like lived history, you know, and you hear about things like the creation of Unix, and like,

00:10:00   why did they pick 1971 as the epoch date for time? It's because that's like when they first had it

00:10:05   running, and it's like, sure, in 1991, that was 20 years ago, but the original version of Unix

00:10:11   felt like ancient computer history 20 years prior. But now, here I am in my late 40s, and

00:10:19   it feels like stuff that happened 20 years ago. I know it wasn't recent, but boy, it sure feels

00:10:25   more relevant than it did. And so here I am in the 20th year, going into the 20th year later this

00:10:33   year of writing Daring Fireball, and the— Well, that's an amazing milestone. Congratulations.

00:10:40   Well, congratulate me when I get there. And I've never won, I think I've only

00:10:45   even commemorated one anniversary, I think the 15th or something on Daring Fireball. I'm not one to

00:10:50   make a show of stuff like that. Not out of—it's not that I'm overly humble, it's just like an

00:10:57   innate sense of that Steve Jobs axiom, and I'm sure he'll come up more times here, but that's

00:11:03   sort of, if you do something good, take a moment to appreciate it. I'm paraphrasing here, but move

00:11:07   on to the next thing and make something else that's good. It's, you know—

00:11:10   That's right. As a matter of fact, that quotation, at least when I worked on the Infinite Loop campus

00:11:18   for all the years that I did, more than 15 years, certainly in the later part, maybe it was even

00:11:24   after his passing that that quote that you're mentioning was painted up on the wall outside

00:11:30   of the town hall, the on-campus auditorium. I mean, really quite famously, Steve was

00:11:36   uninterested in the past, and certainly uninterested in reveling in the past.

00:11:45   I remember when I joined Apple in June of 2001, I worked on the Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino

00:11:52   in Building 2, and on the second floor, there was a miniature NeXT museum. There was some NeXT

00:12:02   hardware, there was a cube and a slab, and then some Sun hardware, I think, that was running

00:12:09   NeXT step. Once NeXT got out of the business of making its own hardware and making software for

00:12:14   other platforms, so there was maybe six or eight machines there. And of course, this was 2001,

00:12:20   so Steve had been back at Apple for years by that point, but not long after that, the word came down,

00:12:27   "Nope, that stuff is just getting bundled up and sent off." I either sent it to the

00:12:32   Computer History Museum in Mountain View, just close by, or I think maybe, as I'm thinking about

00:12:38   it now, somebody at Stanford took it, but he was just like, "Clean that stuff out. We're making

00:12:43   new things. Just don't worry about the past. These computers running this ancient software with little

00:12:50   cards and exp—what place does that have in a company that is focused on innovating and making

00:12:59   new products that are going to, at that point, trying to dig Apple out of a hole of having only

00:13:07   5% market share in desktop computing." And thinking about that from the point from June of 2001,

00:13:14   it was only four months later that the iPod was announced. And that was, in some ways,

00:13:23   the real solution, the real jumping-off point for Apple, the moment where Apple ceased to be

00:13:31   what it was and started being what it has become—new products, new platforms, and a whole

00:13:38   different order of success. I have the quote in front of me. "I think if you do something," this

00:13:44   is from Steve Jobs, "I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go

00:13:49   do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long, just figure out what's next." I believe

00:13:54   that's the part of the quote that's on the wall. Last time I was at town hall for a media event,

00:13:59   it was certainly still there. I certainly can't believe they'll take that down.

00:14:02   But I don't know what they use town hall for anymore. COVID restrictions aside,

00:14:08   media events are now on the new campus. It's never going to stop seeming weird to me that the old

00:14:13   campus was infinite loop and the new campus is a building that's a loop. So I always want to say

00:14:19   infinite— Well, there is a loop of six buildings. I wish I had a count. I wish I had a nickel for

00:14:27   every time that during the day, either solving a—trying to work through a hard problem that I did

00:14:32   laps around the outside of that loop. Yeah, it is aptly named. It was really a beautiful place to

00:14:38   spend 15 years of my working career, for sure. But that quote really does sum up so much of

00:14:46   the culture that Steve tried to bring to Apple that people like me, an individual contributor,

00:14:53   never a big executive, never really spent that much time with Steve, although I did

00:14:59   a couple of times. And as I tried to write in my book, those few times affected me very greatly,

00:15:05   had a huge influence on the way that I did my work. And so quotes like that, it's part of the

00:15:12   culture, it's part of the lore, it's part of what we were shooting for, part of what inspired me to

00:15:18   do the work that I did on the products we were trying to make. Yeah, it definitely expresses its

00:15:23   sentiments. The other thing I know that I think it was Steve Jobs who got rid of was the icon garden.

00:15:29   They had some of the original Mac, like, 1984 icons somewhere in the infinite loop. Not really

00:15:36   sculptures, but two-dimensional things stuck in the grass, and they got rid of them. Yeah,

00:15:40   so they got rid of those things. The numbers outside of the building are the last vestige

00:15:45   of that. They never replaced those. But even back in 2001, you'd go into the reception area

00:15:52   of infinite loop 2, and then there was a glass door, a set of glass doors that, I mean, you've

00:16:00   probably seen them, John, but other visitors will have as well. But the glass right at a

00:16:07   RAM maybe chest level had some stenciling on the glass of those old one-bit icons. And yeah,

00:16:14   just maybe 2002, 2003, they just come in one morning and that day they were scraped off and

00:16:21   never put back. Again, not focusing too much on the glorious past, but trying to make a better

00:16:29   future. I don't want to keep moving on. We can do this. We can talk about you writing your book

00:16:34   next. First, starting, dodge the question of, do I think I have a book or books in me? Where I was

00:16:39   going is I always thought maybe, and let's put aside the idea of best of collection from Daring

00:16:45   Fireball, which is sort of a cop-out, right? You can put that in a book. People might enjoy it as

00:16:50   a book, but that's not writing a book. That is, it's a different thing. So I've always had the

00:16:55   idea and it always, in some self-effacing way, felt like real writers are book writers. And not

00:17:05   real writers, that's even too dismissive. But for whatever reason, I've always, even before Daring

00:17:11   Fireball became a thing, I always felt like a columnist is the scope of my aptitude. And it's

00:17:22   not Stephen King, whose book on writing is one of the best writing books I have ever read. One of his

00:17:28   things though, is that if you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write. You have to

00:17:32   read to be a writer. And I read voraciously, of course. And I do read, I read a tremendous more

00:17:38   amount of short form writing on news and stuff like that, stuff that I link to, then I do read

00:17:44   books. And I read fewer books than I used to. And I can't explain why and I feel a little guilty

00:17:50   about it. But long story short, I don't know. I don't know if I have it in me. I don't know.

00:17:56   And I guess the big thing is that whenever I do write something, it's because I feel like I've got

00:18:00   this idea in my head and I need to get it out. And one of Stephen King's analogies is that all

00:18:05   of the things he's written, he imagines them as like fossils in the sand or in the dirt.

00:18:10   Writing is like digging out the fossil. He doesn't know how big it is because it's in the ground. And

00:18:15   then he digs it out. And of course, for Stephen King, a lot of these are like 500 page novels.

00:18:19   I feel the same way though about articles that I wrote, like the one I wrote on the origin of the

00:18:25   iPhone. So I've got to write this. I don't know how long it's going to take me. I don't know how

00:18:29   long it's going to be. Is it a thousand words? Is it 3000 words? Is it somewhere in between? I don't

00:18:34   know. I just have never started digging on an idea where it feels like this is a 60,000 word

00:18:39   book broken into chapters. But maybe I approach it wrong. And this, I would love to know the way

00:18:44   you approached your book is maybe it's, you shouldn't, maybe you shouldn't think, I shouldn't

00:18:49   think about writing a book, but instead think about an idea for a book that is composed of

00:18:55   chapters and chapters are more like articles, which is what I write and think more about

00:19:00   the practicality of writing chapters as opposed to just sitting down, start to finish writing a book.

00:19:05   I, to go back to Stephen King, he, I found his book extraordinarily helpful to those of you

00:19:13   listening who are unfamiliar with the book. It's, it's wonderful, highly recommended the first,

00:19:20   and he breaks it up into two parts. The first part of the book is autobiographical. He tells the

00:19:25   story of how he and, but really more almost like a memoir because he doesn't from start to finish,

00:19:32   tell the story of his life, but tells enough of his earlier life to understand how it is that

00:19:39   he became a writer and how it was something similar to this fossil analogy that he uncovered.

00:19:50   In some ways he couldn't help himself. And so it can have been some respects. It's, it really is

00:19:56   the right job for him. And he also did address the subject matter that he uses as his raw material

00:20:05   for his writing and how for a long time, he felt that there was something either cheap or coarse

00:20:17   around writing the sorts of books that he did. He almost felt sorry for it. Sorry about it.

00:20:24   Felt that he needed to apologize. And he's saying, you know, he said that it was really

00:20:30   later on in his life that it's just like, Hey, now look, this is what I have. This is what,

00:20:36   when he turns his mind toward being creative, this is what just comes out.

00:20:41   And, you know, and I think that in some ways that is that that's the answer for you. I mean, look,

00:20:48   daring fireball is something that probably I have read every day since you start, since I discovered

00:20:57   it shortly after you started writing it. And so sort of second guessing yourself on what you

00:21:03   should write, you know, seems to me not to be a question really worth thinking about for as long

00:21:09   as there's something that comes along that you say you have to do. It's like, you have to write this

00:21:14   story on the origin of the iPhone. Then you're probably doing as well as you can. I mean, you

00:21:19   know, if you can find inspiration in things and there's something that's going to get you out of

00:21:24   bed in the morning and work creatively, then, you know, who's anybody to second guess what that is?

00:21:31   I don't worry about it. I've never felt too bad about it. My dad seems to want me to write a book.

00:21:36   I'm glad he doesn't listen to the podcast. But it's sort of like, you know, I tell this story.

00:21:43   I've told it often where my dad has always been very supportive, both my parents, very supportive

00:21:49   of what I do, but they don't really get it. They don't, you know, I've been doing it enough years

00:21:54   now that they trust me now and they see that I'm successful. But in the early years, they really

00:21:59   didn't get it because the web is just not of the, I mean, they go to the web, but this just never

00:22:04   seems as real to them. At some point, several years into writing Daring Fireball, I got to

00:22:09   start writing occasional back page columns for Macworld, which for Apple punditry was always the,

00:22:17   you know, that's the prime spot, right? There's only one back page column on Macworld and Macworld

00:22:24   was always the sort of, you know, the gold standard of Mac. Oh, it's very prestigious. Sure.

00:22:30   And it really, really impressed my dad. I mean, he was just like tears in his eyes blown away,

00:22:37   like, oh, and I'm thinking like, I should have bought more copies of this for him, you know?

00:22:43   But like my wife said afterwards, and my wife loves my dad, but she was just like,

00:22:47   doesn't he understand that you've built something way better, you know? You know what I mean? Like,

00:22:53   building Daring Fireball by that time was more of an accomplishment than getting on the back page of

00:22:57   Macworld. But being in print, I still do love print. I always will. And that sort of dates me.

00:23:04   I'm, you know, student newspaper guy coming up through college. I do love print. I love typography.

00:23:10   I don't think typography ever looks as good on a glowing screen, no matter how many pixels it has,

00:23:15   than it does printed on paper. I love it. I love the tangibleness of it. I do love it. So,

00:23:23   you know, never say never on me writing a book or collecting stuff into a book or something. I just

00:23:27   said that to somebody on Twitter again today. Never say never, but I don't know. But, yeah,

00:23:34   I mean, it's finding the right medium for the message that you're trying to convey to people

00:23:42   is a trick. To me, I like having constraints. And when I left Apple in May of 2017, I didn't know

00:23:58   what I was going to do. And as I was contemplating leaving, I had a friend get in touch. Her name is

00:24:10   Kim Scott. And she is the author of two books that have gotten some mindshare out of the world.

00:24:19   Radical Candor is one and Just Work is her more recent book. And right at that moment,

00:24:25   when I was really thinking about, well, what's next for me? Her book Radical Candor came out,

00:24:32   and she invited me to the book release party, which took place in Palo Alto. And so I wrote

00:24:40   over there after work one evening, and she introduced me to her editor. And her editor,

00:24:47   you know, started questioning me. Well, hey, Ken, what are you doing? You know, maybe you should

00:24:52   write a book. And I found out later that Kim Scott, it was a total setup that she had been

00:24:58   like a blind into her editor about it. So it really was blind. It's a blind date. Yeah,

00:25:04   it actually actually totally was. And fortunately, the fellow, his name is Tim Bartlett. He's he's an

00:25:13   absolutely marvelous, marvelous editor and so smart, so, so good at his job. And he said,

00:25:24   well, you know, you if you want to write a book, just send me a proposal. And I got the wheels

00:25:28   turning. And, you know, I'd really already decided, but not not yet announced that I was going to be

00:25:34   leaving shortly thereafter. And, you know, it just kind of like all the planets aligned. So within

00:25:43   just a few days of leaving Apple, I had sat down and started started keyboarding started didn't

00:25:53   quite put pen to paper I was I did the whole thing electronically. But this gets me back to then

00:25:59   Stephen King. The other thing I wanted to say about the other half, the second half of the

00:26:03   on writing book, which is Stephen King's advice on how to do the job of writing. And again, he

00:26:12   made it very personal related what he did. And the that whole section is and I have to say that I

00:26:21   didn't actually read the book. I had Stephen King read it to me. And he's a marvelous reader of his

00:26:27   own material. So, so he told me he came to your house or you listen to the audio book.

00:26:34   No, no, I listened to the audio book.

00:26:36   All right. I just didn't know I just wasn't being unclear. No, no, no, no, no. I wasn't quite sure.

00:26:41   I wasn't quite sure how just how well you did at Apple.

00:26:46   Not not that well, I doubt sincerely, although Stephen King is an avid user of Apple products,

00:26:55   I doubt very sincerely that he has ever, ever heard of me. But so I had the audio book to be

00:27:03   perfectly clear. And so listening to him, he said that what he did, he had a process is that he

00:27:10   wrote 2000 new words every day, he'd get up in the morning, and he would set about putting those 2000

00:27:17   words down. And he said, Well, you know, if if he had a good day, and and the writing was easy,

00:27:24   he finishes up 10am. And then he can go get a cup of coffee, have a walk, why did you do some

00:27:30   shopping? That's it, he's done. He satisfied his obligation, and the pressure is off. Now,

00:27:37   other times the writing is more difficult to do. And he says, you know, he's particularly as he

00:27:42   started getting older, that he was still at work at four and five in the afternoon, but the goal

00:27:48   was to set down 2000 new words a day. And that seemed to be a really wonderful discipline. And

00:27:56   so like I said before, I like to have constraints. And and so I said, Well, I'm not nearly as good as

00:28:03   Stephen King, but I set myself the ambitious goal of writing 1000 new words a day. And,

00:28:07   and that's what I did seven days a week. Yeah, I wasn't working anymore. And so this was the job

00:28:15   that actually worked out pretty well. I actually have a spreadsheet on my machine, I don't have it

00:28:21   up here now. But I would write down every day, how many how many words I did. And it was, I was

00:28:30   pretty good. And with within 100 days, I had about 110,000 words, because sometimes I, you know,

00:28:39   you kind of kept going. And that formed the core of the whole of the whole book. And you know,

00:28:47   the interest, you know, the part of it is that I kind of knew what I wanted to say. And so the

00:28:53   writing was kind of easy, because it was going back over my memory and trying to tell this

00:29:01   firsthand account of what what happened. So I, you know, I have a lot of sympathy in a way,

00:29:08   for you trying to write this story, like on the origin of the iPhone, because you're not just

00:29:14   going back over your own memory, you're trying to disclose and uncover facts that either don't exist

00:29:20   or are locked away in somebody else's memory. And you have to try to piece together all of these

00:29:27   accounts, I didn't set myself that nearly as difficult a task as that, in some ways, I marvel

00:29:34   at what you're able to do with with a story like that. How do you get this idea in your mind that

00:29:41   you want to write this story on the origin of the iPhone? What do you do? Well, here, let me say

00:29:46   this. Let me just go back before I forget, while we're sticking our fingers and pages and going

00:29:50   back to them as we continue forward. I did I did write a post when Daring Fireball turned 15,

00:29:56   in August of 2017. And I ran, I don't think I mentioned this in the article. Now, I will put

00:30:01   this in the show notes. But my friend Jim crude all had suggested I do this at some point when

00:30:06   we had gotten together, then he was just like, I wonder how many words you've written, you know,

00:30:09   at Daring Fireball. So I wrote a little script to do a word count. And it five years ago, I guess

00:30:17   that would be four and a half years ago, I had written 1173 full columns, that's the full length

00:30:25   articles, and 25,486 link list entries where I linked to somebody else in the full columns I had,

00:30:34   and it's amazing how even it worked out 1,048,000 words. So let's call it a million, a million

00:30:40   original words, and 200,000 extra words that were in block quotes. So in other words, when I quote

00:30:47   from somebody else in one of my articles, which I obviously, you know, anybody familiar with my

00:30:50   style knows that's sort of fundamental to the whole format is a lot, but in the full articles,

00:30:56   you know, a million original words, linked list entries, 950,000 original words, but of course,

00:31:03   in those entries, 2,000,000 total words, including block quotes, but that added up to two over just

00:31:09   over literally, it was I honestly did not plan this combined original words 2,001,516. So just

00:31:20   two million on the button for 15 years. Sounds like a lot, and it did, it was, it was, it's sort

00:31:25   of like a lot. It's sort of what made me like, okay, I'll publish it, I'll commemorate this

00:31:30   milestone. But then you think about Stephen King's productivity, if he gets 2,000 a day,

00:31:36   that's only 1,000 days. Like three, that's under three years. But I just look at my own bookshelf

00:31:44   full of Stephen King novels, and I don't have all of them. And there's only one Stephen King, productivity wise.

00:31:51   Well, look, he's special. I mean, obviously, he has an incredible talent that, and a genius for

00:31:59   doing what he does. And so I don't seek to compare myself to him. How could I? Having written one,

00:32:08   let's see, it turned out to be 80,000 words in the final, or in this version, I think it even

00:32:16   got edited down something like 77,000 words in the final book is what I recall. I actually have

00:32:22   this spreadsheet here. And yeah, probably about two out of every three days, I got to a thousand words.

00:32:29   And so, you know, any aspiring writers out there, if you wanted to, you know, write a book of the

00:32:33   magnitude of creative selection, you can do a thousand words a day, you could have it in three months.

00:32:39   I mean, so it's just, it's all, you know, kind of the numbers game is one thing,

00:32:46   but you know, kind of figuring out what you want to say is another. I mean, so do you find

00:32:52   the writing process easy? I mean, what do you, you know, you say that you had this

00:32:59   this burning desire to, well, I don't want to put words in your mouth. You said you had this,

00:33:03   this idea in your mind that you wanted to write this origin of iPhone story. It's like, well,

00:33:13   you know, how do you, how do you go about putting something together when you don't have all of the

00:33:18   information right in front of you? Well, this was it. I don't want to talk too much. I want

00:33:23   to talk about your stuff. Not me, but it does, it intertwines, obviously the creation of the iPhone,

00:33:30   obviously intertwines with your stuff very much. Just so anybody who is not familiar with your

00:33:35   work, your role on the original iPhone is you were the directly responsible individual,

00:33:41   the that's the term right inside Apple, DRI? DRI, yeah. For the keyboard. And we can get to

00:33:49   a little bit of that story. You tell the whole story here, but it, you know, long story short,

00:33:53   very fair to say the, you created the original iPhone software keyboard. And so obviously,

00:34:00   and you were, well, you joined obviously to, you know, you joined Scott Forstall's iOS software team

00:34:07   early because, you know, the keyboard was there when the iPhone was announced. So you were there

00:34:14   from very early stages. I probably should have, if I were a better host, probably would have

00:34:18   introduced you with a bit of a biography for people who aren't familiar. But I also,

00:34:23   I want to assume that people are pretty familiar with you by this point.

00:34:26   Basically my burning desire for this came out of, well, it's long nagged me that I never put the

00:34:35   whole story together. You know, Apple's people famously, because it's a prerequisite to work

00:34:41   there. You keep your mouth shut on what you're working on when you're working there. It's a

00:34:45   tight-lipped company, secret, whatever you, whatever adjectives you want to apply. And then

00:34:50   as time goes on and people leave, they can be freer or feel freer to talk about what happened.

00:34:56   And nobody's going to be too sensitive about, you know, stuff that happened 15 or 20 years ago.

00:35:01   Andy Hertzfeld, legendary engineer on the original Macintosh team, put together a great website

00:35:09   called folklore.org, collecting stories of the creation of the original Macintosh. And then that

00:35:16   got collected into a terrific book, which, you know, based on the website called Revolution in

00:35:22   the Valley, which is just a terrific book. I have the book in my hand right now. I keep it right by

00:35:27   my desk. It's marvelous. You know, and he, again, what a memory he had. I mean, it's just unbelievable

00:35:35   how much stuff. And that's, you know, obviously, you know, that was a time when a lot of the

00:35:41   digital artifacts didn't survive. There wasn't really email at the time, right? Like 1982,

00:35:46   working at Apple on the prototypes for the Macintosh. There wasn't like email you could

00:35:51   save. There weren't text messages. A lot of the stuff he had was like, you know, printouts of

00:35:56   paper and graph paper and stuff like that. But by the time it came out, it wasn't spoiling anything.

00:36:01   It was, you know, the classic Mac OS, I think. I forget if it was even still alive or if it was,

00:36:06   you know, by that time. But, you know, you can do that.

00:36:09   - Yeah, just looking at the copyright of Revolution in the Valley was,

00:36:13   oh, Andy signed this one for me. That's very nice.

00:36:15   - Well, we, but... - 2005.

00:36:17   - So, yeah, the classic was already even dead. And not that it would have mattered if he had

00:36:22   published it five years earlier. Nobody was thinking it was secret what happened in 1983

00:36:27   or 1984 by that time. And now that the original iPhone is in our rearview mirror, we've had drips

00:36:35   and drabs and things like your book and interviews with participants and stories that have leaked.

00:36:41   And we on the outside know much more about how it happened than certainly the day that Steve Jobs

00:36:49   held it up on stage when it seemed, you know, like almost a technical marvel, you know, almost

00:36:54   too good to be true, both on the hardware and software side. Is this real? Is this really

00:36:59   happening? We know so much more about it. But what's always nagged me is that so much of it

00:37:05   is vague or conflicting, like what happened in 2006, what happened in 2005. And I'm not saying

00:37:13   that my one 2000, 3000 word article put it all together. There's still so much more to dig there.

00:37:20   There were iPod projects going on. There were pure research into multi touch projects going on

00:37:29   with Boz. What's his last name? Boz Orting. Yeah, Boz Orting. And I know Greg Christie,

00:37:36   whom I've met a few times, you know, was worked with with Boz on some of those ideas, as just like,

00:37:41   hey, is this multi touch something we can use for anything? And we know that there were ideas that

00:37:46   they would build a tablet first, and then it's like, no, let's build a phone. And then it's like,

00:37:50   well, wait, should we use the multi touch stuff with the phone? We know all these things,

00:37:53   drips and drabs. But that that stupid little Facebook story to his eye, I credit him,

00:38:01   you know, it actually motivated me was Tony Fadal tweeting about it, like the day later. And,

00:38:08   and I guess I, he said in a tweet that he tried to reach out to me about correcting the description

00:38:14   of him being responsible or spearheading the Linux OS part. And I think it's a sensitive thing for

00:38:21   him. But I didn't want to just take his word for it. And Oh, Tony Fadal says, it's not true. Well,

00:38:25   then I should just publish a correction say it's not true. But I thought, you know what I this has

00:38:29   been bothering me for years. Let me try to dig into this. Let me get something off my chest. And

00:38:35   I started collecting talking to a few people. A few other people like noticed Fidel's tweet and

00:38:42   sent me a few comments, people, a couple of people who still work at Apple. So I can't mention them,

00:38:47   but who've been there long enough. Lots of people have been at Apple a long time. It's sort of one

00:38:51   of the secret sauces at Apple, you know, that there's a long institutional memory. And I just

00:38:58   thought, let me just see what I can collect and start putting it into an outline and collect some

00:39:02   stuff. And it like time went on and I wanted to correct it quickly, because I felt like what I

00:39:10   and it always bothers me when something I actually put on daring fireball is wrong. And I often say,

00:39:14   my goal is to be right, always and have everything I write be tracked. I know I'm going to make

00:39:19   mistakes. And so what I try to do is make as few mistakes as possible, but be open to the fact that

00:39:25   I might be making a mistake anytime, recognize it, and correct it. And it bothered me that those

00:39:31   posts I put up in January and you tweeted about them too. But there was if you just took them at

00:39:37   face value, it was misleading about Fidel's role and misleading in terms of the scope of the bake

00:39:44   off between these two OSS. Facebook's was clearly a years long thing with hundreds of employees

00:39:50   working on the one they ended up abandoning. Whereas the bake off period at Apple was very

00:39:55   short. I knew that I knew that. And yet I still published it just as a huh, that's a previous

00:40:02   OS bake off story for a secret project that was coming up. And that's good enough. And then I just

00:40:07   had all these notes. I had all these notes, a bunch of good sources, some of them public,

00:40:11   like your tweets, some of them private. And I thought, how do I organize this together? I just

00:40:17   felt like I just had like a shoebox of slips of paper. It's like, what do I do? And the stupid

00:40:23   idea that hit me, the obvious idea that hit me. And I think you'll sympathize with this, where in

00:40:28   hindsight, once you have it, Oh, how did we not think of this all along? You can't remember not

00:40:33   having it, but I thought the whole thing should hinge upon putting together a timeline. And

00:40:37   that's the middle of the article I posted last night is just here as best as I can figure is

00:40:43   a timeline of certain events along the way, starting in like 2004 with the agreement to do

00:40:49   the rocker phone with Motorola to 2005. And my favorite, and you, I was so glad to see you tweet

00:40:58   it 2006 colon hard work. It really did. John, you nailed it. You really did. You weren't there,

00:41:10   but, uh, you, you, you were able to divine what 2006 was all about. Right. Sure. But it does seem

00:41:17   like that as a rough timeline, 2004 is this timeline where, and maybe all along it's in

00:41:24   the 2000s, some somebody at Apple is thinking we should make a cell phone because cell phone is a

00:41:29   computer type thing. The iPod in 2001, obviously showed that Apple can make handheld things that

00:41:35   are actually extremely compelling. There's this pressure, which was obviously true that is circa

00:41:43   2004. Okay. The iPod is exploding in popularity, which is good. And the part of that hand in hand

00:41:51   is the iTunes music store is exploding in popularity. That's from Apple's perspective,

00:41:56   very good. And from a consumer perspective, I think it's turned out to be good. It was the

00:42:00   first step towards making digital music without any sort of physical media, a business, as opposed

00:42:07   to just something you've pirated over the internet. Right. But by 2004 cell phones were getting good

00:42:15   enough that, you know, and I think, I don't think I quoted in my article, but in one of the books

00:42:20   and I, you know, again, like a conspiracy theorist, for the last five weeks, I've had like six books

00:42:26   each of them with eight bookmarks in it at the points that are relevant to what I was trying to

00:42:31   put together. At one point though, Eddie Q spoke to someone, I think it was in the Becoming Steve

00:42:36   Jobs book, but just said simply, look, it was obvious, you know, why carry two things in your

00:42:40   pocket? Everybody at Apple, even people at Apple had an iPod in one pocket and a cell phone in the

00:42:45   other. And if they were only going to get rid of one, it seems like they're probably going to get

00:42:49   rid of the iPod if the, cause the iPod wasn't making phone calls, but the phone could play music.

00:42:54   And so what are we going to do? Steve Jobs felt like Apple couldn't do Apple phone, the Apple

00:43:01   way where Apple made the decisions and said, this is what we want to make. Here it is. It's finished

00:43:06   ready for the world because cell phones all had to go through, as he called them the orifices,

00:43:10   the carriers and the carriers notoriously dictated all sorts of nonsense to every single company that

00:43:17   made phones at the time. You know, Nokia, Ericsson, Sony, whoever else was making popular phone,

00:43:23   Blackberry at the time, everything had to be approved through the carriers. Apple didn't want

00:43:28   to do that. Steve Jobs didn't want to do that. So, okay, fine. We'll let Motorola make a phone

00:43:32   and we'll work with them to get iTunes working on it. And it turned out almost famously bad.

00:43:39   I mean, the rocker is just famously bad. It's not a good phone. It seemed bad at the time.

00:43:45   I, it was one of those things I revisited. I remember describing it like when the demo

00:43:50   failed at the introduction and it was like Steve Jobs wanted to demonstrate that you'd be,

00:43:55   if you played music and you got a phone call, it would like duck out the music and you'd take the

00:44:02   phone call. And then when you're in the phone call, the music would resume and the music didn't

00:44:07   resume. And I just remember writing that it seemed like he almost wanted to just throw the damn phone

00:44:13   on the ground and onstage in front of everybody and say, ah, forget it. You know what? We're

00:44:16   building our own phones. Stay tuned. But he didn't, he, you know, he was a pro and he stuck with it.

00:44:22   But then I rewatched the video this week and I was like, nope. He, he thought about throwing that

00:44:26   phone on the ground. He really was. He really did. Yeah. He broke character. Right. He really.

00:44:31   Yeah. Yeah, for sure. It, it, for sure. It's interesting because you wonder what's going on

00:44:39   in that moment. It's like, when did he decide that, okay, we're, we're actually doing this

00:44:44   thing ourselves and you, it, you can almost, you can almost see the wheels turning in his mind.

00:44:50   It's like, it's right, right now. Right. That's, this is it. You know, we just need to do better

00:44:56   ourselves. And you know, it, it, you know, the, the iPod is, is all gave, I think I gave Apple

00:45:07   the confidence that the company could do it at that. You know, you kind of, you kind of look at,

00:45:13   um, you know, so much of what happened at Apple happened because of the talent that,

00:45:20   that the company could attract, that there were these amazing designers and these highly skillful

00:45:27   engineers and these excellent marketers and, you know, all of the lawyers and then the supply chain

00:45:33   and the operations and everything like that goes into making a great product. But really,

00:45:40   you know, what, what did Steve add? And, uh, you know, I think it's, you know, maybe clear and

00:45:46   obvious to say, but I think still worth saying that he provided the vision. He provided that

00:45:51   we're going to go and do that, that that's the product that we're going to make. And to just

00:45:56   Marshall all those resources and point the point everybody in the same direction and give them a

00:46:02   clear idea of what they wanted to do or what he wanted everybody to do. And, uh, you know, I,

00:46:10   I think one of the great things, you know, going back and looking at, you know, you say,

00:46:14   you mentioned looking at old videos, going back and looking at Steve say, when he was at the all

00:46:20   things digital conferences with the Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher up on stage over many years,

00:46:27   he'll very often use the phrase making great products. What does Apple do? Well,

00:46:32   we make great products. They ask him, what do you do in the morning? Well, I have a team of people

00:46:36   get together and we figure out how to make great products. That's what he cared about.

00:46:40   And so that's what he brought to the company. That's the momentum that he brought to the overall

00:46:47   effort. So that then people like me, you know, eventually, you know, there's a problem like

00:46:52   making a software keyboard for this new phone that we're going to make that, you know, it was just

00:46:56   very, very clear to me that that's my piece in the puzzle. And so I just set about trying to actually

00:47:02   deliver it so that there could be a whole product. And that, you know, that Steve was like gathering

00:47:08   up all of these pieces and, you know, and figuring out, Oh, what the jigsaw looked like and, and how

00:47:16   all of these pieces would come together and what the final picture would look like. And of course,

00:47:21   one of the major things that he did as well was, you know, sometimes you wind up with a beautiful

00:47:26   piece that's, you know, excellent and marvelous all by itself, but it doesn't fit into the puzzle.

00:47:34   And so he had this, this intuition about, you know, what would be the pieces to keep and how

00:47:43   should they be arranged so that the final picture would be, would be wonderful. And so in a way,

00:47:50   you know, you think of, think about, you know, what was Steve's job is it's like, he was like

00:47:53   an editor. He was just a great editor of of, of everybody's work. He'd give out the story

00:48:00   assignments and then the work would come back and he would figure out, well, okay, well, how do we

00:48:04   make a you know like either a magazine or a newspaper, you know, edition out of it. And he was

00:48:13   an absolute genius at it. I always think of him as, as being analogous, his role being analogous

00:48:19   to a film director in terms of the film director doesn't have to put their hands on the camera,

00:48:26   didn't write the script, doesn't show up as an actor on camera, doesn't build the sets,

00:48:34   may not even edit the film. There's an editor who edits the film after it's been shot, but is there

00:48:42   every step of the way to say, this is what I want it to be like, or this isn't good enough,

00:48:46   or that's great. That's, that's an amazing idea, but what if, yeah, I've always thought that,

00:48:52   but let's, let's take a break. And then I want to ask you about how you got started on the iPhone

00:48:57   team, because it's one of my favorite parts of the book, but let me tell you right now about our next

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00:50:19   sponsored Daring Fireball a couple months ago. It is really, really, I love it. It's so good that

00:50:25   it makes me want to use it to build something. I'm not saying, I know people throw around the

00:50:31   sort of a hypercard for the modern age a lot and it don't get into specifics. It's not supposed to

00:50:36   be a clone of hypercard, but it has that same sort of, Oh, you just drag things out and click

00:50:43   on the thing you want to, Oh, here's the button, add the code that the button makes happen. When

00:50:48   you click the button right there by clicking on the button, the sort of right combination of

00:50:53   WYSIWYG visualness for dragging out the forms and connecting the visual parts to the code that you

00:50:59   want to write. And then you just hit a button and then there it is, and it's just running and it

00:51:04   works. And you're like, huh, I have an app. Really, really cool stuff. Great. It looks great. They're

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00:51:15   Fireball a couple of months ago. Go to retool, R E T O O L dot com to find out more. That's retool

00:51:24   dot com to find out more. One of my favorite parts of your book, Ken is, is that you almost didn't

00:51:31   work on the iPhone. It sounds to me like, so long story short, when did you, when did you start at

00:51:37   Apple around 2001? In June, I was on my birthday of June in June of 2001. All right. So June, 2001

00:51:48   Mac OS X is brand new. And the first thing, the first project you worked on at Apple was what

00:51:56   became known as Safari or WebKit. I mean, I guess before you'd even, there was a difference between

00:52:02   Safari and WebKit. Which one would you actually, so yeah, so when I joined, I joined the same day

00:52:10   as Don Melton and he and I had worked at a company called Easel, which interestingly was founded by

00:52:21   Andy Hertzfeld, the fellow who did folklore.org. That's how I got him to sign the copy of the book

00:52:28   that I have on my desk here that Andy of course was one of the instrumental developers in the

00:52:36   original Mac OS in, in the eighties. And so, you know, Easel unfortunately didn't succeed,

00:52:44   but it had gathered up this amazing set of talented people. And one of the other

00:52:52   top executives at Easel was a fellow named Bud Tribble who went off with Steve Jobs when Steve

00:53:00   left Apple or was ousted from Apple. However you want to characterize that in 1985 to found Next.

00:53:08   And so Bud was our VP of engineering at Easel. And when it was clear that Easel didn't have a history

00:53:16   anymore, he I pretty sure he just got on the phone and called Steve and said, Hey, we've got all of

00:53:23   these wonderful engineers. Maybe you want to hire some. So Apple actually held a job fair for Easel.

00:53:31   On the infinite loop campus. So, uh, I mean, it was really like, uh, you know, like, uh,

00:53:36   like we were a high school and, uh, up on the fourth floor, which, uh, of infinite loop two,

00:53:42   which at that time was a game room. It was a pool table and a couple of the old, uh, coin operated

00:53:47   arcade machines. Uh, yeah, there was a bunch of hiring managers that, uh, uh, struck up

00:53:53   conversations with a whole bunch of us. Uh, and so I was very interested in going to Apple because

00:54:00   at that point, uh, Easel was, um, the fourth company that I had worked at in the preceding

00:54:08   two years. Now, if you think about, you know, the, the kind of the.com era, there were these

00:54:12   startups came and these startups went and you, you know, to me, Apple seemed like a, well,

00:54:19   I'd always loved the company. Uh, and it just seemed like, you know, okay, this couldn't be

00:54:23   as Mac OS 10 is out and you know, the company of Steve is back and the, the companies probably got

00:54:28   a good future ahead of it. And it was actually making money, uh, which was more than you could

00:54:34   say for any of these previous startups that I had worked for. So I was really enthusiastic about

00:54:39   finding a job somewhere and I'd actually had a good lead on working for the system preferences

00:54:46   team. And, uh, you know, before I could, uh, get even get an offer, uh, Don who, uh, again,

00:54:55   I had worked with at easel, Don and I were the, uh, two directors of engineering reporting to bud.

00:55:01   Uh, Don was doing the client side of our, our effort, which I won't get into. And I was doing

00:55:08   the server side, uh, code for our effort, uh, at easel, uh, which was, well, basically it was

00:55:14   Linux on the desktop with some online services layered on top and it didn't work. So we were

00:55:20   trying to figure out what was, what, what we should do. And so Don pulled me aside and said,

00:55:25   um, here, why don't you come and take a, take a ride with me? So we went over to the computer

00:55:30   literacy bookshop. So we went to an actual physical brick and mortar bookstore, uh, and he

00:55:36   went in and he, uh, you know, he bought a couple books and he came back out and we got in his car

00:55:42   and he put down the O'Reilly rhino, uh, JavaScript book, right? JavaScript definitive guide,

00:55:50   right, right. So he put that book down on the console in between the, the two, uh,

00:55:56   seats in the front of his car. Uh, and he said, uh, Ken, you want to make a web browser?

00:56:02   And it was like, uh, uh, uh, uh, sure. What did it sound completely crazy? Uh, but he said, yeah,

00:56:10   uh, he was talking to, uh, Scott for stall and Scott with forestall, wanted to bring him on,

00:56:15   start a new project. He was going to make Don the manager and Don in that moment offered, uh, to,

00:56:21   uh, uh, uh, you know, me an opportunity to be his team. So, uh, he and I then, uh, just a couple

00:56:29   of weeks later, uh, in June of 2001 started and, uh, the job was to make a web browser.

00:56:36   He was the manager and I was his team to two people. And the idea at the time,

00:56:43   basically, why make a web browser? Why should Apple make their own? There was internet explorer.

00:56:48   There were, there was a Mozilla. There were fire or I guess Firefox wasn't named Firefox yet, but

00:56:56   you know, there were other browsers. You could run them on the Mac. Uh, two things. I think if you're

00:57:03   picky about the details, it was absolutely true that none of the browsers on Mac OS 10 felt native

00:57:11   to Mac OS 10 and, you know, just little things like it with internet explorer, there were issues

00:57:18   that it was ported from classic Mac OS to Mac OS 10 and had, you know, text rendering didn't quite

00:57:26   look right on the Mac OS 10 side. And I know that's in some ways that sounds like such a silly

00:57:31   little thing. Like, well, just render the text differently. But in that, those, those, uh,

00:57:37   those transitional years, it, it really made a difference. And if you, and because screens had

00:57:44   so many fewer pixels per inch at the time, the difference was, you know, very noticeable. You

00:57:49   didn't really have to be a super picky font snob to say, oh, the text doesn't look as good, but,

00:57:55   you know, the way the buttons look and things work, it, it, and it was never going to be,

00:58:00   nobody was going to make a true great Mac browser unless Apple did it themselves. And then I think

00:58:07   the other reason is that just web browsers were obviously so important, right? There's all sorts

00:58:13   of other things that maybe there's not a great blank for the Mac. And you could say, well,

00:58:19   but it's not that important, right? It's not so important that there's, you know, and fill in your

00:58:24   product category here. Web browser didn't, you know, seemed like it was, you know, to put it in

00:58:31   the Tim Cook terms, an essential technology that Apple should control, you know, that it was too

00:58:36   important not to have their own. Right. And, and, and, and so one of the other things that, you know,

00:58:44   you, you, you know, we're introducing this, this, this topic, you know, talking about both Safari

00:58:51   and web kit. Well, I can tell you that from day one, both of those were absolutely essential

00:58:56   that a part of our charge was to make a web browser, but that also we needed to make a web

00:59:04   framework that you could use to make a web browser because man, I think it's really one of the

00:59:09   underappreciated aspects of Apple's long-term success in the, you know, the, the Steve Jobs,

00:59:16   2.0, you know, you know, Steve returning to Apple, you know, starting from that date in the late

00:59:23   nineties, all the way through to today is the success of Apple's software frameworks, giving

00:59:32   not only third-party developers, but just as importantly, the internal first-party developers,

00:59:38   these great software development tools to make great apps. And so the goal was that we needed to

00:59:49   deliver a framework that we could give out to third-party developers to make great web app,

00:59:58   web apps of their own. And they're not really web apps, but technologies that deeply integrated the

01:00:04   web into the overall experience, right? Just to be very clear about that. So it, it, it, it was a part

01:00:12   of the job right from the start to do both Safari and WebKit, but of course we didn't have those

01:00:17   names. I mean, we really didn't have anything. We, we didn't know from day one, whether we were

01:00:23   going to build something ourselves, whether, you know, I didn't know Don and I used to joke that we

01:00:28   sit down, you know, we would get a terminal and we go VI web browser dot C and we just start typing,

01:00:34   you know, the code to write a web browser. I mean, that was kind of the, the joke. Do we do that?

01:00:38   You know, to buy or do we to build, or do we buy something from you know, some existing

01:00:46   web browser vendor and bring that code in house and try to customize it? Or do we go and try to

01:00:54   latch on to some open source that was available and begin our work by customizing that and, you

01:01:04   know, to make a very long story short, what, you know, what we, you know, wound up, we wound up

01:01:08   looking at Mozilla, we wound up looking at opera and we eventually fixed on the work the web

01:01:18   browsing frameworks, K HTML and KJS from the KTE desktop environment on Linux. And we found that,

01:01:27   it was, you know, pretty easy to work with. And it's actually is a one more digression is that

01:01:34   this was a difficult thing for Don and I to, to, to, to decide on. We were actually really

01:01:42   looking back quite indecisive about it. And we had going on, been going on for about six

01:01:48   weeks saying, well, do we build, do we buy, do we do open source, do this investigation in this

01:01:53   framework or that? And right around that time, we were saying, well, this is gonna be a pretty

01:01:58   big job to make a web browser and a web framework. So we need to hire some people. And so we hired

01:02:05   this fellow, Richard Williamson and Richard came on and he again, about six weeks into the effort

01:02:13   and we didn't really have very much to show for what we, you know, that, that time between when

01:02:21   Don and I started and when Richard started. And so Richard wanted, you know, kind of,

01:02:26   we wanted to give him an update on what we were doing and he was interested to hear about our

01:02:29   progress. And he was like, really not impressed at all. He kind of, he liked the idea of making a web

01:02:36   browser seem like a big project, something worth doing, but he was completely unimpressed. So he

01:02:41   went off by himself for like two days and we're gonna, Don and I were kind of looking at each

01:02:46   other. It's like, well, Richard seems busy. I don't know. He seemed to, you know, maybe,

01:02:49   you know, he's going to come up with something and he did most really quite remarkably. He had

01:02:54   taken this KDE code from Linux and just absolutely jammed it onto the Mac, got X windows running on

01:03:03   the Mac, took this Linux code, got it compiling on Mac OS 10 and brought the browser up under

01:03:13   X windows on the Mac in like two days. And he called us into his office to give the,

01:03:20   give us a demo of the thing. And he just starts browsing the web on, on, it was incredible.

01:03:27   It was absolutely, absolutely one of the most awesome displays of just jam tied to hackery,

01:03:36   chicken wire and duct tape to get something that provided us with a vision of the future.

01:03:43   It was really just an absolutely remarkable piece of work. And that just the next day I went, we,

01:03:48   I went home from that and you know, it came in the next day and stood up a Linux box and downloaded

01:03:54   Katie and really did started doing some analysis to figure out what code, what, what files do we

01:04:00   actually need to bring over from Katie and, and K K HTML and KJ KJS to, to get our project starting

01:04:12   in earnest. So if you go and look, I mean, you can on track.webkit.org, I mean, it's a web kit,

01:04:18   it's an open source project. You can go back and look in some of the first, you know, the first

01:04:22   commit is mine of just a couple of files from from the KDE project. And we started on that.

01:04:32   And you know, that development still proceeds more than, you know, 20, 20 years, you know,

01:04:40   20 years on. It's no longer a fresh transition from K HTML to webkit. It's no, no, no, it has

01:04:49   really had a whole life of its own. Now this story is told in great, in great detail in the book.

01:04:55   But, but one of the things I read, that's one of the parts I reread. And one of the parts that

01:04:58   really struck me is at that point, it's three of you, it's Don Melton, you, and now Richard

01:05:06   Williamson. It's three people who are still like, just sort of, you know, and you do have a firm

01:05:11   mission. The mission is pretty clear. You're going to build a great Mac web browser with a great

01:05:16   engine that could be kitified in Apple's terms, right? And so then, you know, I think about the

01:05:23   ways that Apple has used WebKit, not just Safari, but WebKit since. There was dashboard for a couple

01:05:29   of years where the components were all built in WebKit. There are little parts, you know,

01:05:33   like the help system could now be written, you know, now use WebKit as the rendering engine for

01:05:38   help information. Parts of iTunes could be rendered as HTML. And, you know, Apple News today

01:05:46   is, it's all over the place, which doesn't even get to the point that by the time you got to make

01:05:52   a phone, now you have your own engine. And obviously, an engine needed to be customized

01:05:58   greatly to run on a three and a half inch diagonal touchscreen with pinch zoom and all these other

01:06:04   things, you know, even putting that part of the serendipity of having a great extensible

01:06:13   componentized framework that could do it, you know, it obviously made sense. But at that point,

01:06:19   it's just three of you. You and Don are mostly thinking, well, how can we shoehorn the Mozilla

01:06:25   project into something that we can build on? And, you know, maybe if Richard Williamson hadn't been

01:06:33   available, or if he hadn't taken the job, or you hadn't decided to hire him, or somebody else had

01:06:37   been employee three, maybe WebKit is totally different today. You know, it's entirely possible.

01:06:43   Trenton Larkin Yeah, we might have failed.

01:06:44   Dave

01:06:53   But failure was an option in this case where Apple had web browsers, right. And when Safari debuted,

01:07:00   it was a surprise announcement. It wasn't like, you know, it wasn't completely obvious that Apple

01:07:06   needed absolutely positively needed its own browser, it was well, it would be nice,

01:07:13   it would be nicer to have their own web browser that rather than rely on Internet Explorer and

01:07:17   these other options that people have that are mostly built on cross platform code bases,

01:07:22   and therefore don't embrace the Mac. And, you know, maybe it can't be componentized easily.

01:07:26   That was the whole problem. Again, long story short, that was the whole problem with Mozilla,

01:07:30   was that it really was, it was sort of the opposite of the framework mentality. It was just

01:07:35   this gigantic monolithic code base that they built to sort of abstract out all the details,

01:07:42   because they wanted it to be cross platform, right, by wanting Mozilla to run anywhere,

01:07:46   they sort of built effectively their own operating system at a conceptual level that everything ran

01:07:52   on. And it was therefore hard to just pick out the, well, we just want the rendering part,

01:07:56   you know, we just want the JavaScript engine. And it was like, no, you kind of got to take

01:08:00   this whole thing. Right. Anyway, the WebKit thing turned out pretty well.

01:08:05   You know, I just was looking at something came across my feed, I know it was Twitter somewhere,

01:08:15   the latest web browser statistics. And so I went and looked and basically everybody uses WebKit to

01:08:23   surf the web these days, whether it's in Safari, either on the Mac or in iOS, or in the fork of

01:08:32   WebKit that happened some years ago, that now powers Chrome. Right. So the entire web, I mean,

01:08:38   it's, it really is remarkable to think that it was just these three, you know, guys who didn't

01:08:43   know anything about the web. Well, it's actually to be fair, Don was the one who did because he

01:08:48   actually had worked at Netscape. So before easel. So it's one guy who knew about the web, two guys

01:08:54   who didn't, and we're learning about it as quickly as we could. And that, you know, some help for

01:09:00   some smart people who did some good work in the open source world. Yeah, now, in the fullness of

01:09:07   time, you know, things have completely changed. I hate to say it, but I think it was me who linked

01:09:12   to the thing about the web browsing statistics, but going by those stats. Oh, we did. But going

01:09:18   by that. That is a way I would have seen it. It is true, but the path from KHTML to WebKit,

01:09:24   and then for years, the first few years of Chrome, it was, they were just using WebKit. Then, you

01:09:30   know, opinions divided on, you know, where it should go. So Google forked it and they have,

01:09:36   I think they call it Blink or Chromium, whatever you want to call their version. But it clearly,

01:09:40   it was a fork from WebKit. So the family tree is clear. And as the years have gone by, I think the

01:09:47   only one left that's not derived from WebKit is the Mozilla engine in Firefox, which is still has

01:09:54   like nine or let's give them 10%. Let's round up to be generous. 10% of desktop browsing,

01:10:00   but mobile browsing is a majority of browsing. And so overall browsing usage, you know, it's got to

01:10:07   be something like 96 or 97% WebKit or Chrome, which is derived from WebKit, including, you know,

01:10:15   Microsoft's own browser edge, which is the most, that's the part that would seem bananas. I think

01:10:20   if time-traveling John Gruber went back and met with Don Melton, Ken Kishenda, and Richard

01:10:26   Williamson while you guys were noodling over his demo, two-day demo of getting Conquerer to run on

01:10:34   the Mac. And I said, by the way, 20 years from now, 97% of all web browsing on all computing

01:10:40   platforms, including those that haven't been, you haven't been invented yet, will be using the

01:10:45   derivation of your work right here. And you would have said what?

01:10:47   Yeah, it's pretty crazy because actually, you know, I write about it in the book about the

01:10:56   effort to make a Safari and WebKit fast. We used, I had a windows machine in my office and re we ran

01:11:05   IE on windows as the benchmark for how fast we needed to be. And in the beginning of the project,

01:11:15   it was absolutely comical. We were three, four, five times slower than windows than IE on windows.

01:11:26   As a matter of fact, it is really quite annoyingly. I had this, this obnoxious click sound

01:11:34   when it would load, you know, go like go off and I'd probably begin fetching the URL.

01:11:40   And so it would just go click, click, click, click, click. Cause we, it just was, it's like,

01:11:49   how are we ever going to be that fast when I, you know, when ours was, was just going, uh, the three

01:11:57   took three times as long or more to get through the thing. And, you know, it really, I have to

01:12:02   give Don Melton just a huge amount of credit for saying, you know, it's almost like, you know,

01:12:07   like a Zen master. He said the way we're going to make the web browser faster is by never making

01:12:12   it slower. Right. He just absolutely refused to accept any check-ins into our code base. And then

01:12:19   as the team grew, eventually we had probably about eight or nine or maybe even 10 people on the

01:12:25   project by timely shift. A huge, huge team can just absolutely enormous, enormous Silicon Valley,

01:12:32   team of almost, almost a dozen people. Almost for it to do a web browser. Well,

01:12:41   what are you going to do? But that's it. I love that story from Don. I don't want to spend too

01:12:44   much time on it, but to restate it, the basic rule instituted by Don Melton was anytime an engineer

01:12:51   wanted to check in code for a new feature or an updated feature, you had to run your page load

01:12:57   test. I think it was, you called it and it's just loading real world web pages from real sites that

01:13:03   people actually use that were popular. And Safari had to be as fast or faster than it was, you know,

01:13:10   preferably faster, but not slower. And if it was slower, then back to the drawing board,

01:13:15   see what you can do in your code to make sure that when you do check this feature in,

01:13:19   it always gets faster. And it sounds, I think people out there who don't program and certainly

01:13:23   haven't been involved in larger software projects that you might think, well, that must be the norm

01:13:29   everywhere, but the real norm everywhere is we'll fix it later. Right? Like, yep. Like we,

01:13:35   we were told we've got to get support for blank in here. You know, like let's say it's a new CSS spec,

01:13:42   right? CSS 1.1 came out. We only support 1.0. There's these things we need to do. We've checked

01:13:48   them in. Ah, but look, when we use these CSS 1.1 things, it's 10% slower rendering yahoo.com and

01:13:56   then New York times.com. We'll fix it later. Okay, let's go. Cause we've got these other things on

01:14:01   our list. We've also got to support this other new thing and new technology. And we, you know,

01:14:06   we've always been meaning to make printing better, keep going. And then those we'll fix it later is

01:14:10   pile up and next thing you know, it's slow. Yeah. Yeah, it's absolutely true. And you know,

01:14:15   there were, and Don just simply refused to have it be the way that we worked. I, I, I remember

01:14:23   there was one time that I was working on some big feature. I actually don't remember the feature,

01:14:28   but I do remember the phone call that I got on like the Friday evening that, Hey, I finished

01:14:33   the work. And as I check it in, no, naturally, you know, another programmer joke, you know, you,

01:14:37   you make a big check in and then you go home for the weekend. The you know, he gave me a call

01:14:44   and said, Ken, I checked out your code and I ran the page load test and slower. It's got to come

01:14:48   back out. And it's like, Don, you always, what do you, what do you mean? I mean, it's just like

01:14:52   huge amount of work and it's all these new features. And he says, I don't care. And it was

01:14:57   absolutely the right thing to do. And, and you would, you would think, you know, if you are,

01:15:02   you know, a developer or maybe you're just thinking this through logically, well, how can

01:15:06   you make the software do more add features and yet still have it be faster than it was without

01:15:15   those features there. Like your, your mention of like CSS one.one, it's actually doing more to

01:15:23   implement a more complex, complicated version of a spec. And the trick was, you know, that,

01:15:31   that the code base was sufficiently large and sufficiently not or insufficiently understood by

01:15:40   us that there was always an opportunity to go into some new area, understand it a little bit,

01:15:45   optimize it a little bit and offset the, the, the, the cost of adding the new features

01:15:53   in subsystem a with optimizations in subsystem B. And as long as the browser was faster,

01:16:03   that was okay as fast or equal, then it was okay. We could proceed. And so it was just a

01:16:09   matter of matter of kind of sometimes shuffling around these, these, these chips around the, the,

01:16:16   the table and trying to think of, you know, like new and interesting ways that we could either

01:16:20   optimize here or there, or it's sometimes gathering up little optimizations to, you know,

01:16:26   to offset things. And we didn't really game the system either. You think that we could, you know,

01:16:30   it's like save an optimization for when we needed it. And then we just very honestly and

01:16:34   straightforwardly tried to do the best job adding features and never letting the thing get slower.

01:16:41   And, you know, and, and crazy, you know, crazy enough, it worked.

01:16:44   That would be that that would be dastardly if you like, you had part of the code in your purview

01:16:50   and, and, and you had an optimization, but you, it was like, Ooh, but then if I do something else

01:16:56   and it makes it slower, I'll check in my optimization for this other thing that I've had

01:17:00   in my pocket. And then the whole thing feels faster. It's, you know, it just is, it's like,

01:17:06   I'm an absolutely like horrid liar and I get, I get, you know, such like childlike enthusiasm.

01:17:12   If I had actually discovered an excellent optimization, there's absolutely no way I

01:17:17   would have been able to keep it to myself. And so, you know, it just was the, it was the culture,

01:17:22   it was a good positive culture. And so, you know, and, and put that together with a plan and a clear

01:17:28   goal and there you go. We're watching the, my wife and I are watching the show, Pam and Tommy on Hulu,

01:17:35   which is about the Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, both their marriage personally, which is more,

01:17:42   you know, I was around at the time, but the famous sex tape that came out and was sold over the web.

01:17:48   And so, and you know, these, these scenes take place in 1996 of, of the people who stole this

01:17:54   tape from them selling copies of, because you couldn't watch tape, you couldn't watch

01:18:00   video on the web at the time, or if you did, it wasn't really, it wasn't even VHS quality. It was

01:18:05   so, you know, tiny. So, the way to sell, the way to put a sex tape out in 1996 was to actually sell

01:18:11   VHS copies of the tape, but to do it on the web, you'd send them a check and then they'd mail you

01:18:17   a tape. But the thing that they, you know, I pay attention to stuff, everybody listening to the

01:18:25   show pays attention to stuff like this. The thing they get right is how slow the web was at the time

01:18:32   and they don't cheat. And it's like, you're watching these pages load over modems. And it's

01:18:37   like everybody who went through this modem era knows, oh my God, it was so incredibly slow.

01:18:43   And people would just make their web pages as tiny as they could be. And we'd compress, you know,

01:18:48   use whatever tools we could to shrink a GIF from 15 kilobytes to 13 kilobytes. That was a win.

01:18:54   And it still was so terribly slow. And I remember having a job interview coming out of college

01:18:58   and, and, and they had a T1 line. And it was the first...

01:19:02   Trenton Larkin Oh, wow.

01:19:03   John Green Oh, I mean, we had some,

01:19:05   some computers at Drexel University where we had that, but for the most part, when I was in the,

01:19:10   like the comp sci lab, it was at like a Unix terminal, you know, and I'm just staring at

01:19:16   a command prompt. I wasn't browsing the web. And it was like, oh my God, this is so fast.

01:19:21   But then once you got past modem speeds and got, you know, real internet, you, at that time,

01:19:28   you suddenly, it didn't take long where this thing that felt because you were no longer tied to this

01:19:34   bandwidth of a modem, you're way faster than that bandwidth wise. You realized,

01:19:39   rendering the web is extremely slow. It is just, it's just extremely difficult. HTML and what people

01:19:48   wanted to build with HTML and JavaScript and what people wanted to build and did build. And the

01:19:54   other thing too, is it's like, you can't just say, well, we won't, we won't do that because other,

01:19:58   if other web browsers are rendering this popular webpage that was very difficult to render,

01:20:04   fine, then you had to too, right? It was competition at work, but it was, it's

01:20:10   incredibly, the combination of computers being slow, slow, not bandwidth, not modems, but just

01:20:15   the actual CPUs being so slow compared to today and web pages being ever growing in complexity,

01:20:23   the speed really mattered. And I remember when Safari was announced that it was, you know,

01:20:28   to me, it was more interesting, like, hey, this is, this really is native. I don't, you know,

01:20:32   and of course, as Steve Jobs was announcing, we didn't know what the underlying rendering engine

01:20:38   was yet. I think it was, you know, like an email to the KHTML team after, you know, which again,

01:20:44   I don't want to get into. It was like the KHTML team found out about this after it was announced,

01:20:48   which is according to, you know, that that's within the rights of the license, you know,

01:20:53   and that's why WebKit was then open source, but it was like, it dropped as a surprise even to them.

01:21:00   But it was, to me, it was like, oh my God, it is native. It looks great. I love this interface

01:21:04   and it renders text well, and the buttons look like Mac buttons, but it was fast, fast, fast.

01:21:09   This is faster than the other browsers. And it was so important. Oh, you know, and again, just,

01:21:15   you know, total, um, you know, I, you know, I give, you know, so much credit for Don Melton

01:21:20   for figuring out the, the, the way that we were going to deliver on that goal, but it just comes

01:21:25   down to Steve. That's what he said. And so he said, this thing has to be fast. And that, and

01:21:31   that was that, I mean, there was no real arguing with Steve when he just said very, very clearly

01:21:35   what he wanted and just an incredible amount of insight into what, where the web was going. I mean,

01:21:44   you know, don't necessarily fit. I mean, Apple is not necessarily known, uh, perhaps with good

01:21:49   reason as, as a company that really maybe understands the web or is, you know, uh, uh,

01:21:55   internet native, maybe even, uh, you know, it bears so much of its history as being like this

01:22:01   single user system that is, you know, people running Photoshop and illustrator and other

01:22:06   graphics programs by themselves. Uh, and yet Steve did have this, you know, really, you know,

01:22:13   amazing insight into where the future of the web was going, as you just described as people were

01:22:17   coming off modems, uh, and we're going to be getting faster internet speeds, that this was

01:22:22   something that, uh, he wanted to be a, uh, an important part of the overall, you know,

01:22:29   experience of having, uh, you know, then Apple web browsing, um, uh, experience.

01:22:36   So Safari ships, webkit ships, it's a hit. It, it takes off on the Mac. It, it's growing,

01:22:42   you're working on it for a few years. Um, but then long story short, you, you kind of ended up

01:22:49   Peter printer, principal in yourself, right? The Peter principle is the, is the adage that

01:22:54   employees in an organization rise to the level of their incompetence. And you think, oh, well,

01:23:01   that's, that's, that sounds, well, you think that sounds brutal. That can't be right, but it makes

01:23:05   sense. Like if you're really good at your job and you deserve to be promoted in a well-run

01:23:11   org organization, that will be recognized and you will get the promotion you deserve.

01:23:16   And then eventually you'll get a promotion to a point where you're, you're no longer

01:23:20   looking like you need another promotion or deserve another promotion. You've risen to the level of,

01:23:27   of your incompetence. Um, and maybe in your case, again, it's not, maybe not even incompetent.

01:23:33   It sounds like from your book, it was just, you rose to the level of your dissatisfaction,

01:23:39   right? You you'd gone to me. I asked for it too. Right. You asked for a promotion,

01:23:45   became a manager and, and very, very quickly just discovered that I didn't like it. Uh, it was,

01:23:54   I just missed coming in every day and worrying about the technology, you know, and, and realizing,

01:24:00   uh, uh, after the fact, rather than having, you know, sufficient foresight to understand it, uh,

01:24:07   you know, before I, I made the commitment that when you're a manager, your job is to worry about

01:24:12   your people, you know, and to make sure that they're productive, that, that, Hey, they have

01:24:17   what they need so that they can do the, the, the work to make the, make the products. And, uh, I

01:24:24   just missed making the technology by mist mist, uh, coming in and having the difficult, interesting

01:24:31   technical problems to solve myself. And, um, I, I just, uh, after, you know, maybe two or three

01:24:39   months, I realized that it was just absolutely not for me. And, and so I'll just continue to continue

01:24:46   with the story is that I just went and told Scott for stall. It's like, Scott, uh, this, uh, I'm

01:24:52   miserable and, uh, I want out and he's like, wait a minute. No, he's like, just three months ago,

01:24:58   you committed to me that you were going to take this team on and that you were going to get some

01:25:01   good things done. Um, and I said, no, I say, well, look, I'm willing to resign over it. I understand

01:25:08   that I made this commitment to you and that now I'm reneging and that I'm willing to, um, you

01:25:15   know, to, you know, to just leave the company over and I'll go find a job someplace else, but I feel

01:25:20   like I let you down and I'm sorry. And he's like, whoa, wait a minute, wait, wait, wait, wait. He

01:25:25   was pretty upset with me, but he said, Ken, tell you what, go away. I'm going to work on this and

01:25:32   we'll figure it out. And this is around 2000. This is early 2005. I believe this is in it's actually

01:25:41   in, um, uh, it's like in July of 2005. Okay. So middle of two, I had made, yeah, I had made the

01:25:49   final decision to, uh, you know, to throw myself on the mercy of forestall, uh, over the 4th of

01:25:57   July weekend. So famously now this is where it's all coming together. We, you know, as I've

01:26:03   pieced together, not that I've I'm like Sherlock Holmes, but you know, that by early 2005 at the

01:26:09   highest levels, Apple had decided let's build our own phone and Scott forestall obviously was very,

01:26:15   very much, uh, aware of that at the time you had no idea, like, so you're, you're meeting with

01:26:20   Scott forestall, uh, and talking about, you know, the three month old promotion you would like to

01:26:28   un-promote yourself and do something else. But meanwhile, you know, he's trying to,

01:26:33   he recognizes he, you know, you know, he'd like to keep you as a productive, you know, that you're,

01:26:38   you're a good team member to have somewhere. Uh, but meanwhile, in his head is the entire iPhone

01:26:46   OS project, which was still at like the, this sort of germ, germ stage, like webkit was when it's you

01:26:55   and Don Melton and, uh, uh, Williamson, uh, you know, and just like, I don't know, could it be

01:27:02   cage TML? Should we build our own thing from scratch? You know, it's, you know, everything is possible, right?

01:27:08   And so then, then you get, you get a knock on the door, right? Yeah. So then, uh, the, uh,

01:27:17   so then, uh, Henri Lamoureux, who was reporting to Scott said, uh, Ken, come, come over here,

01:27:25   come into my office, close the door. And he said, sign this paper. Um, it's like, uh, uh, okay.

01:27:32   So it's like for a new project, you sign the paper, I'll tell you what it is.

01:27:34   And it's like, uh, okay. So I signed the paper to some paper was an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement,

01:27:42   you know, that of course, everybody at Apple is already under an, uh, a non-disclosure agreement,

01:27:48   blanket non-disclosure. So this is the super double secret non-disclosure agreement specifically

01:27:54   about this project, uh, that he was going to tell me about if I signed. So I sign and I hand the

01:28:01   paper back to him and he says, yep, we're going to make a cell phone. And that was it. And so then I

01:28:07   was on the team and, and it turns out there was about like maybe six or eight other, um, intrepid

01:28:13   engineers, you know, none of us had any experience making cell phones. Now we eventually brought in

01:28:21   another team member who did, but of the people who made the iOS, the first version, none of us

01:28:28   said ever worked on a cell phone before, uh, at that point is, has the bake-off been completed

01:28:36   or is the bake-off, you know, with, Hey, what if we just build our own OS from scratch based on

01:28:42   Linux and it's not cut down from Mac OS X is that still going on coincident in July? Yeah. So to be

01:28:48   yeah. So to be clear about that, what I, what project I signed up for was the effort to shrink

01:28:56   down Mac OS X, right? To take the desktop OS and to shrink it down so we could run it on this phone.

01:29:04   Right. And, uh, then that project was being run by Scott and Scott had deputized, you know,

01:29:09   on read to be the day-to-day manager since Scott had lots of other software responsibilities and

01:29:15   design responsibilities as well. So, um, so that was part of the effort. So I got to see

01:29:23   what became UI kit from a very, very early point. Uh, and you know, just one of the little,

01:29:29   you know, sort of isms that is, you know, fixed in my memory about the, uh, about the Apple

01:29:34   software development culture is that, uh, we used, uh, the precursor to Xcode today,

01:29:40   which was called project builder, which actually came from next. So that was the, the, the

01:29:47   development environment, the IDE for, uh, the development that we were using. And the way that

01:29:54   software works is that whenever you created a new file, it had added this header at the top,

01:29:59   which the name of the file and the person who created it and the date. So I remember that UI

01:30:06   view dot M and object to see file for the basic fundamental view abstraction in UI kit was made

01:30:16   in may of 2005. Uh, so it's not, you know, around two months later I joined, but you know, UI kit

01:30:24   was already underway and, but not really much more than two months of work had been done to, to,

01:30:32   to make this shrink down Mac OS 10 version of the phone operating system. So that's when I joined,

01:30:43   that's when I can give you my, my best at it at a station that this is the, you know, the state of

01:30:50   things in, you know, at that moment, July of 2005. And, and at that point, is your team committed

01:30:58   to knowing that it's going to be an entirely touchscreen UI and it's not going to, yeah.

01:31:04   Oh yeah. Yeah. There was, there was, um, uh, we had prototypes, uh, and I think you, you linked to

01:31:12   one of the tweets that I, uh, that, that I, I made of a photograph of one of these prototypes,

01:31:18   you know, these little plastic touchscreens that we, uh, you know, everything at Apple has a code

01:31:24   name. And so the code name for these things were wallabies. So these little wallaby prototypes that

01:31:30   are like, like, um, you know, kind of like a, a, a, a chunky, uh, three and a half inch diagonal

01:31:37   screen with a kind of a big thick plastic bezel on it. And it was just a touch screen. It didn't

01:31:44   have any compute on board. So we had to take these, these wallabies and tether them to a Mac.

01:31:51   And, you know, there was this whole USB thing and there was this bare circuit board. I had a

01:31:56   bare circuit board on my desk for a year and a half, uh, to interface between the Mac to the

01:32:03   wallaby to get everything, you know, get that, that touchscreen hardware up and running. And

01:32:10   this wallaby then showed up on your, uh, on my Mac as an external display. So I could be running

01:32:18   a prototype version of an iOS app on my Mac and then moved, dragged that window over, uh,

01:32:29   the, to the external display and then pick up the display and start interacting with it using touch.

01:32:37   But, you know, things were so, uh, provisional things were so, you know, we were trying to

01:32:43   scrambling so much that there was not even any touch recognition software. We were just using

01:32:50   mouse events, right? So it was just like, you know, mouse down on that button, you know, the

01:32:55   mouse up. And, uh, it was months later by time we, we actually started, uh, uh, addressing the,

01:33:04   the multi-touch capabilities of the, uh, of the screen in, in, you know, in the iOS software.

01:33:10   And so that was the state of play. It was going to be a, uh, uh, you know, this,

01:33:16   this full touchscreen was going to be the basis of the whole system.

01:33:20   Uh, and so that means you're there, you're on the team, you've signed the extra super

01:33:27   double secret, uh, NDA. The team is very small. It is very secret. It is obviously got the

01:33:35   attend. You must know at this point, that's got the attention of Steve jobs, literally the,

01:33:39   you know, highest levels in the company. Um, and yet the Motorola rocker hasn't even been announced

01:33:46   yet that gets announced in September. So I don't want to spend time on a rocker, which you didn't

01:33:51   work on and which was a dud, but what was that like knowing that you're already on this team

01:33:56   and it's, you know, starting to pick up steam and it's getting, it's gone from, you know, in months,

01:34:02   it's gone from one empty UI view dot M file to, Hey, we've got some stuff running and we've got

01:34:10   some ideas here. And meanwhile, then in September, there's the, you know, the phone and, and the thing

01:34:17   watching the video again this week that I always forget is that when Steve jobs introduced it on

01:34:22   stage before he called it the rocker and said it was from Motorola, he said, I want to show you the

01:34:28   iTunes phone and, you know, and to his credit, he was trying to sell it, you know, I mean, and what

01:34:36   better way, you know, certainly saying we we've partnered, you know, if the first words out of his

01:34:40   mouth were we've partnered with, with Motorola on their new phone, the rocker to have iTunes running

01:34:46   on it sounds way less exciting than Steve jobs in a big keynote in Moscone hall saying, I want to

01:34:52   show you the iTunes phone because outside Apple by that time, again, it was a perennial idea that,

01:35:01   Ooh, everybody hates their cell phone. Wouldn't it be great if Apple made a cell phone? Well,

01:35:07   honestly that, that it sounds simplistic, but that's honestly an inside Apple. That's the

01:35:11   same thing. Everybody at Apple hated their cell phones too. Everybody did. They were all terrible.

01:35:15   Yeah, we did. Yeah, we, we, we did. I mean, I can reach on the shelf behind me here. I have a, a,

01:35:23   a, a handspring phone with a flip up display there and a nice little chicklet keyboard. Yeah. We,

01:35:31   you know, that was the phone that I had at the time. It's got, you know, the little knobby

01:35:34   antenna coming out of the top, you know, and, you know, it, it just was, wasn't good enough.

01:35:40   So what's, what's your, what's your team's take when, when the rocker comes out?

01:35:45   Well, look, I, you know, it was, um,

01:35:48   we always had a sense that, you know, and really thinking of two minds, I mean, I look,

01:35:55   I'll speak for myself and I, I wouldn't be surprised if other people felt the same way,

01:36:00   but I can't be sure. So I'll just, you know, speak for myself and saying that, you know,

01:36:05   we really were of two minds in that it's like, yeah, we want a better phone and we think that

01:36:10   we're going to make it, but gosh, we're really far from it. And, um, you know, we, we, we might fail.

01:36:17   So that's the, really the two minds is we want something better, but we might fail. And so it

01:36:24   just kind of seemed, and, you know, we're not going to be ready anytime soon. So it just sort

01:36:28   of seemed, you know, prudent that someone like Steve is trying to run a big company and he's,

01:36:33   he's kind of in some ways hedging his bets. I mean, and, and hedging them in a couple of

01:36:37   different ways in that, you know, ours isn't going to be ready. We need something now.

01:36:42   We might fail. You know, what's going to be the best mix, you know, how are we,

01:36:49   how is he going to preserve the, the best possible future outcomes from Apple, given what he knows

01:36:55   right now and some hopeful speculation about what we're going to be able to do. But, you know,

01:37:02   it really also does speak to the reality that we had no idea how successful the iPhone was going

01:37:10   to turn out to be. We weren't even going to be sure that it was going to be successful at all,

01:37:16   that, um, we might go and look, this was, you know, at, uh, you know, at that point,

01:37:22   uh, a couple of months later, we were hiring, we were maybe up to, you know, 10 to 15 software

01:37:28   engineers and maybe, you know, eight to 10 designers. And that was the iOS effort. You know,

01:37:36   a couple of executives, a program manager, and that was it. So it was a small handful of people.

01:37:41   And so it was a bad and the rocker was another bad. But a real bet is a bet you can lose, right?

01:37:49   If you know, you're not going to lose, you're not actually wagering. Like if you, you know,

01:37:53   I don't know, this might be a terrible analogy, but if you know that a horse race is fixed and you

01:37:58   place a bet on horse seven and you know that horse seven is supposed to win, you're not really

01:38:02   gambling. I guess there's a bit of a gamble of, well, is the horse going to go along with it or

01:38:07   whatever, or like, you know, like pulp fiction, like a fixed prize fight. What if the guy who's

01:38:12   supposed to, you know, take a dive actually knocks the other guy out because he bet against it the

01:38:18   other way. I mean, so it's a small bet, but it's a different kind of bet, but the real bets, I know

01:38:23   this sounds highfalutin like I'm giving people life advice, but if you guys only set out to build

01:38:29   a phone that you knew you could make, it's July, 2005, you've just joined the team and you're

01:38:35   whiteboarding the whole idea. And you're saying, and if every single step of the way was, well,

01:38:40   let's only put things on this idea that we know we can do. A hundred percent sure we can definitely

01:38:47   build this. You don't get the iPhone, right? Like the only way you get the iPhone is to have things,

01:38:53   and again, to bring it to your story, you're committed at that point to a complete touchscreen

01:38:59   display and nobody has any idea how you're going to enter text yet. And it's basically,

01:39:03   we'll have to figure, we'll bet that we can figure that out. Yes. Right. It was, it was a total bet.

01:39:10   There were, there were some early ideas and the fellow who made the company called Fingerworks

01:39:20   that Apple acquired that brought over the multi-touch technology, he had a huge number

01:39:26   of responsibilities on his plate to make that part of the system work. But Fingerworks previously also

01:39:33   had made a hardware keyboard of their own based on multi-touch software, you know, kind of a full

01:39:41   desktop form factor external keyboard. So the fellow's name is Wayne Westerman,

01:39:49   an absolute genius. He was also sort of planning on making the software version of the keyboard,

01:39:57   but it was just too much. And that keyboard wasn't coming together fast enough. And it's kind of one

01:40:06   of the, again, I mentioned before one of the real secrets of how Apple has made, you know,

01:40:14   made products in the past and the culture of making products that has continued over the

01:40:20   longterm software frameworks was, was one of those keys. One of the other keys is

01:40:27   tracking progress and being very, very realistic about how fast the progress is going.

01:40:37   Being honest, honest with yourselves. Yes. And, and if progress begins to lag,

01:40:45   it doesn't need to lag very long before something is done, you know? And, and I think this is,

01:40:53   you know, I, you know, I I've heard, and I have no inside knowledge about it. But I've heard,

01:40:59   you know, the same thing happened at Pixar and has happened over with Pixar movies over the years

01:41:05   that, you know, a director was changed midstream that like Ratatouille didn't start with Brad

01:41:10   Bird directing it. He was brought in later because the director who was on there was just not making

01:41:15   quick enough progress. And at that point, they knew well enough what progress on one of these crazy,

01:41:22   you know, difficult, you know, creative technical projects should look like there's a certain amount

01:41:29   of messiness that goes on and a certain amount of we're going to figure it out as we go. But beyond

01:41:36   a certain point, there's a recognition that this has gone off track. Right. But then, and with like

01:41:41   with the Pixar movie, there's also like, there's like a window, like, Hey, this is our Thanksgiving,

01:41:46   you know, whatever year, you know, Disney needs a big family movie at Thanksgiving in this year.

01:41:52   You know, 18 months from now. This is it, you know, there is no plan B. Yeah. Yeah. And, and,

01:41:59   and so at Apple, there was always a, you know, it was always a schedule that we were moving toward.

01:42:04   And of course, at that point, you know, Mac world was a, was a big event. And, and so there was

01:42:10   always kind of like in this back of our mind, I don't know that I ever could really say for sure

01:42:14   that I knew it was going to be January of 2007, way back in the summer or fall of 2005. But that,

01:42:24   you know, it was always a feeling that, well, somebody has some date in mind and that they're

01:42:30   using that date as a, um, as a measuring stick, right. Counting back from that date, are we going

01:42:39   to make it? And everybody's asking every, every day, are we going to make, are we on track? Are

01:42:43   we going to make it? Are we going to make that next milestone and so forth. And so the, you know,

01:42:48   in the fall of 2005, there was just a termination that the software keyboard project was not

01:42:54   on track and we needed to do something. And so it's really a unique experience in my,

01:43:00   my whole Apple career is that just one fine day on re called everybody out into the hallway and

01:43:05   said, stop what you're doing. And, and, and to be clear, calling all of the software engineers and

01:43:10   designers working on iOS and said, okay, stop what you're doing. Everybody's starting from now

01:43:15   as a keyboard engineer. We need to figure this out. We need something different and better than

01:43:21   what we have now. And so all of us then it's like, well, no. Okay. It's like, uh, go get a

01:43:28   cup of coffee, go back in your office and sort of close all of the windows that you had open in

01:43:34   project builder. And it is, I do whatever you want, get your whiteboard out, get a notebook,

01:43:39   you know, open up a new file and start figuring out what, uh, what keyboards, um, uh, we, we might

01:43:47   be able to make. And, you know, it was just absolutely extraordinary is that the team was,

01:43:52   was a bunch of generalists. I mean, if you could just imagine that there were instead a team

01:43:58   stocked with people who either came from Nokia or Motorola or, you know, some other company that

01:44:03   their cell phone engineers, they might not have been so able to, you know, so easy to pivot, you

01:44:09   know, onto some brand new projects, some new areas that they've never thought about, uh, just on a

01:44:16   moment's notice, but we were all just generalists. So it's like, okay. Um, we all had different

01:44:22   backgrounds and things, but we were not, we, we didn't have a particular area of focus other than

01:44:29   trying to make the best software possible. And so people just did. And, and in very,

01:44:34   very short order, uh, there was a stream of new demos. We were inviting each other to, uh,

01:44:40   to, uh, teach other's offices, come on in, have a look at this one. What do you think?

01:44:44   Uh, and it was just this, this gurgling cauldron of new ideas for how to enter, uh,

01:44:52   text using a touch screen. All right. Let me take a break. Let me, I don't want to interrupt you.

01:44:57   Well, I do actually, cause I want people to come back after the break cause it's such a good,

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01:47:25   So effectively there's, there's a bake-off on keyboards. It is sort of an intramural kind of

01:47:32   like a science fair contest. Yeah. One of it's one of my, I don't want to spoil. I don't want to,

01:47:36   I don't know. I want people to, who haven't read your book to read the book. I don't want to spoil

01:47:39   so much and we can talk about things that aren't in the book, but I love this part of the story

01:47:45   where it basically, you guys were supposed, everybody on the team was supposed to implement

01:47:52   their keyboard is like part of a, like a framework again, to use the framework where it could be

01:47:59   plugged in and within the same demo on the same device, everybody's keyboards could just, you know,

01:48:04   if there's 10 keyboards to demo and you're presenting them to Scott Forstall, you could

01:48:09   just go through on the same device, one, two, three, four, and you know, whoever's number four

01:48:14   is can introduce it and say, look, it's like a wheel. And you do go out from the middle and your,

01:48:19   yours didn't fit in the framework. No, no, because, yeah, so I, I was a bad student and I didn't

01:48:28   complete the assignment. But because, well, you know, you know, I, I wound up, rewriting from

01:48:36   scratch, like three or four times, by that point. And, it's, it's, it was like, well, you know, I,

01:48:46   I think maybe if I rewrite it once more, I could, I could maybe get something that really works.

01:48:52   Either the dictionary was too slow or the, you know, the touch handling was no good. And I figure

01:48:56   I really need this one more rewrite. And I could either take my current version and, and figure out

01:49:03   how to get it integrated into that framework that you mentioned, or I could do this rewrite.

01:49:08   And it decided to do the rewrite. And I think the keyboard came out pretty good,

01:49:13   but what then just happened is that there was going to need to be a step where I was going

01:49:18   to need to get, you know, take the, the prototype out of Scott Forstall's hands, you know, to go

01:49:24   over to the Mac and, you know, run a new command and then hand the thing back to him. So it was

01:49:28   just with the, you know, the, the, the, you know, the people organizing the demo wanted to,

01:49:32   to avoid that. And so I went last and, you know, it kind of got down to the end of the demo and,

01:49:40   you know, Kim Vorath who was running the, the, the, the project said, well, Scott, that's it,

01:49:46   that's all the keyboards in the demo. And I was like, wait, wait, no, no, no, I still have mine

01:49:51   to go. And you know, it was, you know, it's so funny how, you know, history kind of turns on,

01:49:58   well, if Scott had gotten a phone call right at that moment, or he decided, no, I've seen enough,

01:50:03   he could have just left the room and I never would have gotten a chance to show my demo, but I did.

01:50:07   And he liked it right away. And you know, he, you know, the, the Forstall is just, you know,

01:50:14   is so smart and just is so quick to get down to the to what question should he ask that would

01:50:27   tell him the most information. And so I talked to him years later and he said, Ken, he wanted to

01:50:36   know, he can't even see it. Like ask me what is, what is going on in the software here? And I said,

01:50:42   Oh, well, I'm looking at your touches and I'm trying to figure out what you wanted. He says,

01:50:46   like from that moment was sold. He said, you had figured out how to make software a part of the

01:50:55   text entry experience because of course, for the most part, you know, there's some low level

01:51:00   software going on, say in the, you know, the MacBook pro keyboard sitting in front of me to

01:51:06   marry up the keys to the software that processes them. But it's, it's not sophisticated software

01:51:13   in terms of what it's doing. It's just they're processing events from the hardware. Whereas the,

01:51:19   you know, the breakthrough that, that I came up with on that earliest keyboard was to say,

01:51:24   no, I'm actually going to look at what you might mean, look at what you did and try to match those

01:51:30   things up to give the desired result. And that was enough for him. So I got the job. I became the DRI.

01:51:37   But as you've mentioned in the book, part of the scary part about going last in any sort of like,

01:51:44   Hey, we've got an hour to demo projects to, to Scott Forstall. If you're going last, the risk is,

01:51:49   well, what if Scott was late because of something else he had to do? You know, as you said, he was,

01:51:54   he was at least a little busy as I, as I inserted into my timeline, which I think is fascinating in

01:52:01   hindsight, 2005 was also when Apple announced the move from power PC to Intel processors for the

01:52:07   Mac, which guess what was a big deal. Yeah, there's lots going on. So Scott could be late,

01:52:13   but he still has to leave at the end of the scheduled time for the next meeting because

01:52:17   he's got something else or Scott could leave early. Cause maybe his phone goes off and somebody

01:52:21   says, Hey, is Steve wants you. And you know, when Steve would, Steve would call, no, Steve would just

01:52:26   call him directly and just say, Hey, come here. I got to talk to you about something. And guess what?

01:52:30   When Steve jobs call Scott Forstall and says, I need to talk to you about something. Scott

01:52:33   Forstall goes and talks to Steve jobs. Right. So you, and I, again, it's, you know, like I said,

01:52:40   maybe, you know, you don't hire Williamson, maybe web kits, not based on cage TML, you know, maybe

01:52:46   Steve jobs call Scott Forstall. Maybe we have a different keyboard. I mean, and again, it's not

01:52:51   like, Oh, you were just a rando off the street who this was your own, you know, your, your only

01:52:57   screen test. You were an employee on a small team. You might've had a chance to show him the keyboard

01:53:02   subsequently. Sure. But it's still, it makes these things just, yeah, it really does. It just,

01:53:09   I just remember in that, that moment of, of, you know, you never really, you know, you want to

01:53:18   make a scene in a demo with Scott or, you know, never with Steve, but not even with Scott,

01:53:25   you know, it's, it's, it's a high stakes, it's a high stakes moment. And so, you know, sort of

01:53:30   pressing and pushing to say, no, no, no, I have this other demo to show felt like it was a little

01:53:35   bit of a risk, but it was a risk that paid off. You tell the story of demoing it for Phil Schiller

01:53:41   the first time. And at the time your, your, your keyboard had, instead of having a discreet

01:53:47   onscreen key for all 26 letters of the alphabet, there were groups. So like, K W E was one key.

01:53:55   I think that's what it was. Cause you know, Q W E of course the first three. And then you would

01:54:01   press that key for any word that with a Q W or E and press, you know, other keys that either had

01:54:09   two or three letters on them. So they were bigger touch targets. And then the dictionary would figure

01:54:13   out, well, out of all these possibilities, the first letter is either a Q W or an E the second

01:54:19   letter is either a J K or L or whatever. What's what's the most likely possibility, but it looked

01:54:26   weird. And I think that basically your demo for Phil Schiller with the first keyboard was like two

01:54:31   minutes. Like you're braced for like, Oh my God, it's Phil Schiller. He's, you know, he's got this

01:54:35   reputation. He's got strong opinions, you know, good taste. This could be a night, you know,

01:54:41   maybe not even a nightmare, but this could be like an hour long slog of arguing over details or

01:54:46   defending my actions. And instead it's two minutes. And he was like, man, but, but, but what comes

01:54:54   away from me in the book and it's what I love about your attitude and what I think made you so

01:55:01   successful and maybe typical for the Apple mentality is rather than take it personally,

01:55:07   like, huh, huh, how about that? I've been slaving over this for so long, laboring over this for so

01:55:15   long. And he just took two minutes and walked away, but you took it and thought, huh, something

01:55:20   didn't impress him. And it's like, well, he's Phil Schiller. He cares about how things look,

01:55:24   how it's going to look on stage when it's demoed. And if it looks weird,

01:55:27   that's, that's off, right? It's off for Apple for something to look weird. Right. And it,

01:55:33   it started sort of this, not a bump demo, but like, like a surprise demo, like this,

01:55:40   I can't believe it was only two minutes. This is so important. And instead it spurs you to think,

01:55:45   huh, and it gets your gears turning to, and then I think you said it was Greg Christie,

01:55:50   who's just like, how about you just make each letter a key? You know, I'm not going to

01:55:54   do a great. No, it's, you know, Greg Christie is, I love the guy to death, but he had met him a few

01:56:00   times. He's just, he, he is, you know, he is a wonderful, you know, the warm supportive person

01:56:11   to, to work for once you get to know him, but he is very, very gruff on the exterior. And, and,

01:56:18   you know, he's from New York and he's very, very direct in his communication style. So we were

01:56:23   sitting in a meeting one time and he's just, oh, come on, Ken K, you just put, make one key for

01:56:27   every letter. And that's it. And so, you know, you, do you went and described, you know, how

01:56:37   that earlier software worked, whereas it's done with this group, you know, this, this key that

01:56:42   had this group of letters on them. And that when you press that key, so it was a nice big touch

01:56:47   target. So you could, you could, you could hit the key reliably. You're going to get, you were going to

01:56:52   get one of those three letters. And so look, all I did was I chopped up the graphics so that it looked

01:57:02   like you were getting, you were tapping only one of those keys, but underneath the software was

01:57:07   doing the same game. And as a matter of fact, it even did more because when each letter was on,

01:57:13   you know, when three letters was on one key, you were only going to get that letter because the,

01:57:18   the keys were large enough targets to hit. And once I made the key smaller, I started taking

01:57:23   into account keys that were letters that were above and below. And so I made, you know, the kind

01:57:29   of these dynamic sets of keys, but creating the illusion that you were only tapping one key. And

01:57:35   that was enough. That was enough to, you know, give people an impression that it, the, the

01:57:42   keyboard was something that they could understand the first time that they approached it.

01:57:46   I love the story of the keyboard. I think it makes such a great example. And again, the book is,

01:57:53   as you said, 80,000 words. It goes into much detail, but sometimes you need a smaller example

01:58:00   or a concrete example to exemplify a principle. And I have always thought, again, not saying this

01:58:06   just because, you know, you and I are pals and you're on my show here, but I do think that the

01:58:12   iPhone keyboard exemplifies everything Steve Jobs said on stage about why make the whole phone a

01:58:19   touchscreen, which is look, you know, once you put hardware buttons on it, the hardware is there

01:58:25   forever or until you make a new device. Whereas we know how to make something that changes with

01:58:32   new ideas that we haven't even had yet. It's called software. Right. And the keyboard itself

01:58:37   exemplifies that. But the other thing I really love about the iPhone keyboard in hindsight

01:58:42   is that it, it looks at first like the most obvious idea in the world, starting in a world

01:58:50   where Blackberries and Blackberry type phones were at that point, the, the, the best-selling

01:58:57   smartphones, right? If you wanted to do a phone that did like email and messaging, you were getting

01:59:02   a Blackberry or a phone that looked like a Blackberry, which had an actual 26 keys for all

01:59:07   letters of the alphabet and punctuation and a space bar. And you actually click them with your

01:59:12   thumb. And at first glance, that's what the iPhone keyboard looks like. It just looks like a

01:59:17   touchscreen version of that, which is like the most obvious thing to do. It doesn't look clever

01:59:22   at first. It looks like the most obvious thing possible. And all of the other differences,

01:59:29   the affordances, the well, but we don't get, you know, with a Blackberry keyboard,

01:59:33   you actually do get to engage one of your senses touch, right? So your thumbs are covering the keys,

01:59:40   which is, you know, not, not what you want, but it's what has to happen with thumb typing.

01:59:45   But because you can feel as you move from the S to the A that you're on the next button to the left,

01:59:51   you know, to press, whereas you're never going to get that touch. You have no sense.

01:59:55   Never going to get that right. Yeah. And it really is way down in your nervous system. When you,

02:00:02   you're feeling the edge of something on your finger. I'm not even sure that like your cerebral

02:00:08   cortex is getting involved. Right. I mean, it's like, pull your hand off the hot stove.

02:00:13   What they always say. They say that that takes place, that takes place faster than,

02:00:16   you know, you've burned yourself. Your hands already yanked back.

02:00:20   That's right. And, and that, that deep tactile sense is so baked in so much of our nervous system

02:00:27   is given over to the sense of touch on our, on our hands and on our fingertips. And so taking that

02:00:33   away on the, on the glass needed something to replace it. And that turned out to be auto

02:00:40   correction software, but we didn't know that there was, it was, it was something that we needed to

02:00:45   discover through this, you know, sort of arduous seeming, I mean, it wasn't that long. It wasn't

02:00:50   like it was a years long research project, but I'll tell you in the day to day going through it

02:00:55   and the stress of having to, you know, sort of, you know, save your project, you know,

02:01:00   we didn't want to get canceled. We wanted this phone. And so it seemed like it was a lot of

02:01:06   pressure. It wasn't like you were working on an obscure part of the, of the OS, right? I mean,

02:01:13   everybody, no matter, no matter what you were going to use the iPhone for, you were going to

02:01:18   encounter this keyboard. And there was a state of the art, which was the Blackberry style hardware

02:01:23   keyboard, which is obviously what it was going to be compared against. And the other factor that

02:01:28   complicates that is that the, you know, crack berries or whatever you'd call the, the, the

02:01:32   addicted, the people who are addicted to their Blackberries develop the ability to type very fast

02:01:38   on their Blackberries, right? So, you know, it's not just, oh, everybody has hardware keyboards.

02:01:44   It's everybody has these hardware keyboards that people can learn to type fast on. And so it sets

02:01:50   the bar, right? And then we get back to like Internet Explorer on Windows rendering speed

02:01:59   versus Safari. Well, there's the bar because here it is. It's on, it's on your desk. I have a PC set

02:02:04   up running the latest version of Windows with IE and here's how fast they rendered the New York

02:02:09   Times homepage. And here's Blackberry. Here's how fast some people can type on it. What can we do?

02:02:15   And then you come up with these ideas that, that are impossible on a physical keyboard, like

02:02:21   when you press the S key on the iPhone keyboard and a popover appears above your thumb or finger,

02:02:28   however you choose to type. I shouldn't say thumb because my wife is a, is a finger typer.

02:02:34   It, there, there's no way to do that in hardware to, to confirm, hey, you, you know, I, you know,

02:02:39   the keyboard thinks you just hit an S, you know, and there it is S I mean, right. How many,

02:02:44   at this point, honestly, I, you get up past billions and it's hard to know how many trillions,

02:02:51   possibly whatever comes after trillions of key presses on iPhone keyboards and Android keyboards

02:03:00   that use that same design of when you, you know, it looks like a QWERTY keyboard and your finger

02:03:05   or thumb hits the letter and a popover shows up above. So you actually can see what it thinks you

02:03:10   hit. How many key presses have been made at this point? It's, or how many have been made while

02:03:15   we're recording this show around the world? Yeah. Oh, a lot. You know, that's, it's one of the

02:03:21   danger aspects for me of this show is that people are going to have a better idea that, that it's me

02:03:28   to blame for all of that. I wanted, I got to bring this home soon, but I want to, I want to tell you

02:03:36   a story that I heard from somebody at Apple who would know. But I can't say who, but years ago,

02:03:42   basically part of the drama of you guys putting a stripped down version of OS X on a cell phone

02:03:51   in 2006, 2007 is that at that time, Mac OS X wasn't that fast on PC hardware, right? And

02:04:02   especially go back to 2002 when Mac OS X first shipped to the public, it was dreadfully slow

02:04:11   compared to 2001 or 2001. Well, 2002, 2002, I mean, I would say it was at least 2004.

02:04:16   Oh yeah, it wasn't fast yet.

02:04:18   Yeah. I talked to somebody who said they knew all along that the way that, you know,

02:04:24   and it was slow because Aqua was so ambitious with the drop shadows and all the text anti-alias and

02:04:31   the transparency and everything that made it quote unquote lickable and made it look, wow,

02:04:37   made it slow to like hit the file menu in an app and watch the menu drop down. And what I was told

02:04:45   was that Apple starting even before Mac OS X had shipped, had a lab where they had a bunch of tests,

02:04:53   like drop down menus and applications, dragging, you know, the latency between dragging an icon

02:04:59   and, you know, does it track the mouse one to one and measuring it down to like the hundredth of a

02:05:04   second and comparing it against Windows XP. And I think a lot like the early days of Safari getting

02:05:12   blown away by IE on Windows, Mac OS X, the difference is Mac OS X actually shipped like that.

02:05:18   And for years, and every major version of Mac OS X got faster and faster, but they still had this

02:05:23   benchmark of, is it as snappy as Windows XP? And the answer was no. So there was this bar, which

02:05:30   to me is not just for Apple, but anybody, when you have a bar above you, you know, it's such a better

02:05:36   motivator than once you're the bar, you know? But what I was told, here's what I was told though, is

02:05:43   when Windows Vista shipped, and I forget what year that was, but 2006 or seven or something like

02:05:51   that, the people who, you know, who were aware of this benchmark for testing the speed of the OS

02:05:58   didn't know what to do because Vista got slower than XP and it was less snappy. And the decision

02:06:06   was made, well, we're going to keep testing against XP. That's our benchmark. And I think it

02:06:12   speaks a lot because it was sort of like being able to cheat and say, well, now we're not as slow as

02:06:17   we used to be because we'll run against this new version of Windows, which is slower. But one of

02:06:22   the big, this is where I'm going with it, is to me, a big difference between the original iPhone

02:06:28   and the first version of Mac OS X is that the first version of Mac OS X, like if you dragged

02:06:34   a window around, it dragged the whole window without an outline. Like, and for people who

02:06:41   are younger or never used classic Mac OS, when you dragged a window in Mac, in a classic Mac OS,

02:06:46   what you dragged was just an outline of the window to show where it would go. And then when you let

02:06:51   go, the window would redraw in the new spot. And so it didn't actually, you weren't seeing the

02:06:58   actual window move around. And when Mac OS X shipped, and it did, that's a cool idea,

02:07:03   but you saw this shearing, you know, it, the video couldn't, the performance couldn't keep up with

02:07:09   it. And when you scrolled, it scrolled live, but the contents of a complex document or a webpage

02:07:16   couldn't keep up. It scrolled slow, even though it scrolled with visual fidelity. It looked cool,

02:07:24   but felt slow. iPhone did something very, very, to me, that was so clever, was like,

02:07:32   and you'd noticed it most in Safari, is like when you would scroll in Safari, the scroll view would

02:07:37   always track your finger, no matter how fast you scrolled. And if it couldn't keep up,

02:07:41   it would just render a checkerboard. Yeah, that's my idea. Was it really? Was that in the book?

02:07:47   Did I miss that? I don't know. I don't think that didn't make it in the book. I don't think it was

02:07:51   my idea. Well, then I'm asking the right person because it was sacri, instead of making, putting

02:08:00   that as the top priority, visual fidelity and making, make it as fast as possible. The second

02:08:05   priority, the top priority was always keep up with the finger. Is that right? Yeah, absolutely. And,

02:08:11   and this, uh, uh, I did write this in, in the book, um, that directive came from, um, uh,

02:08:21   and, and was best exemplified by, uh, the demo that Imran Chaudhry would give. Uh, and, and you

02:08:29   have to kind of understand a little bit about the way the team was organized, how design and

02:08:35   engineering collaborated with each other is that there was this software engineering team working

02:08:40   on iOS. So the iOS software team, and then there was the human interface team, the HI team who had

02:08:48   broad responsibilities for iOS and Mac OS, and, you know, the, uh, a whole lot of projects.

02:08:56   And so, uh, and at the time, uh, the, there was a, uh, a clear mandate that if HI asked for

02:09:06   something, it was the, the duty of the engineering team to do their best to deliver it. And it just

02:09:14   was no question as to, you know, the, the engineers want X, the HI team wants Y, and now there's going

02:09:22   to be some sort of, uh, reconciliation, whether we do X or Y or both. It's like, no, no, no, no, no.

02:09:28   What the HI team asks for, they get to the extent possible within the bounds of physics. Right? And

02:09:38   so this demo that Imran would give is that he would take a, just a blank sheet of paper on an,

02:09:45   uh, on a clear table. And he would put the piece of paper down and then put his finger in the middle

02:09:51   of the piece of paper. And he would move the piece of paper around, glide the piece of paper around

02:09:57   on the, on the tabletop. And he would say, piece of paper is not jumping. It's not skipping. It's

02:10:04   tracking my finger. Exactly. That's what the pixels need to be like on the iPhone. It needs

02:10:13   to feel like those pixels have a physicality to them that they're just pinned under your finger

02:10:20   and that you can control them. If there's ever any lag or skip or judder, it breaks the illusion.

02:10:28   And we don't want that. It's, it just is not part of the design that we're aiming for. And so we

02:10:35   couldn't deliver that in the, in the web browser with, you know, with full fidelity, scrolling the

02:10:40   content. And so I just came up with this idea. It's like, okay, well, there's going to be this

02:10:46   under under layer underneath the web content that if we can't draw there, you're just going to see

02:10:53   this checkerboard. And I actually have to pretty, you know, pretty sure that, you know, that, that

02:10:58   even at that time Photoshop had a similar sort of idea. It says, I'm just going to do that. I'm just

02:11:05   going to do that for the web browser. So yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you appreciate that. But it was,

02:11:11   it was to meet that design goal of that where, where we don't break the illusion.

02:11:17   Well, the Photoshop idea to me was always, and I know, I don't know, maybe, you know, again,

02:11:23   I think for most of us, we, we never read the manuals. Maybe they explained it somewhere,

02:11:28   but I never read the Photoshop manual. I was self-taught, but to me, it was always,

02:11:32   and as a budding UI designer and lover and fast, somebody fascinated by it, it was like,

02:11:39   how do you render nothing? Right? And it's like, what, what color, what color is water?

02:11:45   And I remember one time in school, like a science teacher asked that once and the kid and the kid he

02:11:49   picked was the, he, I think he purposefully picked a kid who he thought would give the,

02:11:54   the answer he wanted, which was that the kid said white. And he said, no, it's not white. And he put

02:11:59   something colored behind the glass of water, you know, and if it was red, then you could see red

02:12:04   through there. You know, it's clear, but how do you render clear? You can't render clear on a

02:12:09   screen. And so Photoshop came up with this checkerboard. If you delete everything,

02:12:13   you can't just show white because white might be the actual background you want. So the checkerboard

02:12:18   was the sort of nothing. Right. And I love that. It's kind of right. I mean, it's, it's like,

02:12:23   you know, of course you can, none of these little hacks are ever perfect because what if the webpage

02:12:28   is a checkerboard? So, I mean, you know, there's, there's always, there's always one, you know,

02:12:34   you know, one ideal case, I mean, you know, where, where it could frustrated, it could,

02:12:40   it could ruin the illusion, but it is just an illusion. It's just like, you're, you're saying,

02:12:45   you know, this is, this is, you know, it's, it's, it's, it's a trick and, you know, trying to figure

02:12:52   out what the right set of tricks are, what the right trade-offs are. You know, you mentioned

02:13:01   that there is this, this decision which, which I'm glad that you, that, that, I guess I'm not

02:13:06   surprised that communicated to you that, you know, the iOS, it just keeps up with your finger the

02:13:12   whole time. It's like, that's something that we didn't want to get, give up on. And so we

02:13:18   came up with a hack. It's, it's a good hack, but, but it's some, some bit of, of, of where, where

02:13:25   the, the, you know, one part of the illusion breaks in order to keep another one stood up.

02:13:31   And, you know, trying to design and, and trying to figure out what, what the right set, set of

02:13:38   trade-offs is, I think is a big part of what has made, you know, Apple products so joyful to use

02:13:46   over such a long period of time is because there's people there who care about it and have been

02:13:51   caring about it for a long, long time.

02:13:53   Recognizing that trade-offs are often not just between good and better, but sometimes between a

02:14:00   thing that's good and a thing that's bad, right? So with the Mac OS X style, where nothing was ever

02:14:06   checkerboarded and everything was always WYSIWYG, it looked cool and at the time was revolutionary

02:14:14   for a computer, but it felt slow. Whereas you'd never wanted to see the checkerboard, the

02:14:21   checkerboard itself. I'm talking about how cool I thought it was. You're saying it was a clever

02:14:25   idea you had, but you certainly, you never wanted to see it, right? And Apple worked hard year after

02:14:30   year to get it to the point where I forget at what point the checkerboard never stopped showing

02:14:35   up in Safari. And it was always capable of rendering everything in real speed. It was only

02:14:39   a handful of years. Surely there's a lot of people out here listening who don't even remember having

02:14:46   an iPhone. Because it was just a few years, because you couldn't wait to get rid of it.

02:14:51   You hated it. But if you had to make the choice between a thing that was like, "Ah, we give up

02:14:55   on painting in real time," but that checkerboard is going to track your index finger one-to-one

02:15:02   as fast as you move your index finger.

02:15:04   Yeah. It was just, and I think part of the trade-off was we need to sell people on this

02:15:16   notion of a touchscreen operating system. And so, we decided to make the guarantee that it's going

02:15:24   to feel like a physical object to you. And that was just going to be part of what made people feel

02:15:33   comfortable about it. I mean, when you're making systems, so often I've felt over the years that

02:15:41   if I don't do a good enough job, people are going to take that product and they're going to want to

02:15:46   throw it out the window. Certainly felt that with the keyboard. And it says, "What can I do to avoid

02:15:52   that?" And so, throughout the development of projects, things aren't good. The funny thing

02:16:00   is that if the project was good at any time, the executives and the marketers and the operations

02:16:06   people would figure out how to ship the thing early if you were done ahead of time. And so,

02:16:12   it never really is that. It's like during the middle of a development cycle, things aren't good.

02:16:19   A lot of stuff is broken, features aren't implemented. Some of them are and some of

02:16:26   them aren't. But it's like A is implemented, B isn't. And so, that also means that C is broken

02:16:32   because it depends on B, even though the rest of it is there and waiting for B to be finished.

02:16:38   And you just wind up with this whole set of Gantt charts that if you were to model it that way,

02:16:48   where there's all of these dependencies and the system just doesn't work. It doesn't feel like

02:16:54   it's come together until you start to get closer and more things get done. And so, there's always

02:17:01   this game that you play as you're going and saying, "Well, what am I going to be able to

02:17:07   get done in time? Can I do something like the checkerboard that maybe is a stopgap?"

02:17:13   And we wind up saying, "Well, it's a good enough stopgap. We're going to be able to ship now."

02:17:17   And so, it's this whole multi-dimensional game that you're trying to play to figure out, "Well,

02:17:28   where is this sweet spot in this huge set of intersecting features and capabilities?"

02:17:38   So, it certainly isn't science. It's an art.

02:17:43   So, how big of a mess is everything at Humain right now?

02:17:48   I'm not going to give you an answer to that.

02:17:56   Stop stammering. Stop stammering. You were already kind enough at the beginning of the show.

02:18:01   Before I could even ask you the obligatory question, you already said,

02:18:05   "We're not talking about whatever it is that you and your colleagues are working on."

02:18:10   Here's something that I will say about Humain is that we're hiring.

02:18:15   So, if you're interested, I'll give you a link for the show notes.

02:18:23   And yeah, we've got a lot of interesting work. And it's interesting and fascinating enough that

02:18:32   I'm enjoying it very, very much.

02:18:36   You took a meeting on a Saturday. So, it's engaging. But that is good. You have something

02:18:42   to promote for Humain. They're hiring. We will put a link, I promise, in the show notes.

02:18:46   The other thing we can talk about, which people can enjoy right now, current work,

02:18:51   is your game UpSpell, which is sort of the—

02:18:57   It was my pandemic project.

02:18:59   It's your pandemic project. It's a word game for the iPhone. Surprise. It's very enjoyable.

02:19:05   It is sort of the anti-wordle because wordle has no clock. And the whole point of UpSpell is you

02:19:13   get like, like the—

02:19:15   Two minutes.

02:19:15   You get two minutes, you get a tile of letters like Scrabble, and you make words out of the

02:19:20   letters. And then when you think you have a good word, you push it up. That's the up. And then

02:19:25   those tiles get replaced by other tiles, and you try to make another word, and you push it up,

02:19:29   and you try to make as many words as you can in two minutes with every time you use a word,

02:19:33   the tiles get reloaded. It is very fun to play. If you like word games, I will also

02:19:38   put a link to it in the show notes, but that's—

02:19:40   Well, thank you.

02:19:41   But, you know, it's good to have something else to pimp, for lack of a better word.

02:19:48   And last but not least, your book, Creative Selection, is—we've only scratched the surface,

02:19:56   thank God. I don't know what in the world made me think that a two-plus hour podcast

02:20:00   would spoil the whole book. It's nowhere even close to it. But if you thought this conversation

02:20:04   was interesting and you haven't read Creative Selection, my God, go run, don't walk, or just

02:20:12   go to your Kindle or your iBook store and get it. But the website for it is creativeselection.io.

02:20:19   That's probably the best place to send people, with links there that you can buy.

02:20:24   Cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I deeply, deeply thank you for your time here, Ken.

02:20:30   I gotta have you back on the show. We've got too many other stories to tell.

02:20:33   I had a great time.

02:20:34   It's easier—the second—it's easier for me to get you on the second time, or—because I had—now

02:20:40   I know—I know—you know, I've—

02:20:42   Well, you can always find me on the watch channel.

02:20:45   So I just—

02:20:47   We didn't even begin to talk about our shared love.

02:20:50   Our shared love of watches.

02:20:53   And close listeners to the talk show will—may remember that a couple of episodes ago,

02:20:59   Jon mentioned that he had this crazy signal channel that was the only thing he was using

02:21:04   the app for because he had a couple of friends. Well, it was the watch channel that we have,

02:21:10   and with me and a couple of other pals. And we've actually moved it to iMessage now.

02:21:16   What do you think of that? Is that a good change?

02:21:18   No, I don't think so.

02:21:20   I don't think so either. I think we should go back.

02:21:23   Yeah, I think we should go back to signal. Here's why. Because the watch channel—here's why.

02:21:27   And me piping up about it here secretly before, or in joke-wise before, got it to move to iMessage.

02:21:36   But now let's just be explicit that I think we should move it back. Because it's not the sort

02:21:40   of thing any of us on it need to stay up to date on. I don't need instant alerts. It's like, "Hey,

02:21:46   let me check what's up with the guys on the watch channel." And so I think it's better segregated,

02:21:52   whereas everything else I have on iMessage is generally stuff I do want to see right away.

02:21:57   So it's sort of spoiling my iMessage. And then the other thing, selfishly, is that we're busy

02:22:02   enough on our little watch channel that it gets me looking at signal, and I publish my signal number

02:22:08   for readers of Daring Fireball to contact me securely and privately, which is great for that.

02:22:15   But I don't—people don't—it turns out to be not—it doesn't get used that frequently.

02:22:21   But now I don't check signal at all. And I—even this past week, I had—

02:22:25   So it's a great way to get it.

02:22:26   Right. I had a message pending from somebody, and I wish I had seen it sooner. It didn't

02:22:32   ruin—you know, I didn't lose, you know, a sponsor or anything, you know, along those lines. It

02:22:36   wasn't like I lost business. But it's like, "Oh, I would have answered that 48 hours ago,

02:22:40   but I stopped looking at signal because the watch group isn't on it."

02:22:42   Yeah, so we're gonna have to go back to—

02:22:45   We could do a whole show on watches if you want.

02:22:48   Yeah. I was—yeah.

02:22:52   Thank you, Ken. This was absolutely a blast. And I do look forward to having you on again.

02:22:59   Let me just say, before we go, my thanks to our sponsors, Squarespace, aka ReSquarespace,

02:23:04   and Remote, where you can use them to hire workers in countries around the world, and Retool,

02:23:13   the visual prototyping, build your own actual—from prototype to actual shipping—usable

02:23:21   web apps for your teams. Great, great, great sponsors, one and all. Thanks, Ken.