That's the third time this week I read an article talking about how Apple invented the smartphone and mobile applications. Who's spreading this nonsense?

Yes, Apple made smartphones popular (I guess?). But let's not rewrite history here: we had smartphones and apps several years before the first iPhone got released.

Nokia was earlier I think. Then again I can imagine that there where others too

@fribbledom I still remember downloading pirated apps for my Nokia S60 smartphones.
Tesla was the first to entertain the idea of a smart phone back in the 1920's.
At least that's what research has determined.

@fribbledom Yes and no. There were smartphones up to a decade earlier, with programs* and even program stores. But the all-screen UI, and a year after launch the all-programs-are-apps focus, was a huge shift. Android was a Blackberry clone before the iPhone launch!

* "App" is the file extension of a NeXTstep/Mac/iOS bundle. It's not the right term for anyone else's programs.

App is Just short for application which is a synonym for program. It can be used for any platform.


@sexybiggetje @fribbledom It's really not. I know it's hard to remember before language changes, but nobody used the term "app" except Mac nerds.

Everyone said "program", very rarely "application". Go read old magazines, or look at google ngram results.


I think you may be remembering that incorrectly.

I have blog posts dating back all the way to 2001 where I talked about "the next killer app for the Internet".

Napster was called a "killer app" in 1999:


@fribbledom @sexybiggetje So he was exposed to Mac nerds. Because normal use of "killer app" meant "application-as-in-use", not program.

I was cataloging it at one time, watching sites flip from calling them programs to "apps" as their iPhone reviews rolled in.

Some more sources from 1999 courtesy of Wiktionary;

1999, Jerry Bradenbaugh, JavaScript application cookbook, page xi:

So is a spreadsheet app, but I'm not going to put those on a web site any time soon.

1999 November, AUUGN, volume 20, number 4, page 9:

The Web browser was the killer app that kickstarted the Internet and, in turn, enabled it to be embedded in everything


@mdhughes @sexybiggetje @fribbledom reading old mags would tell me what App *used* to be used to mean, rather than how it is used *now*.

@mdhughes @sexybiggetje @fribbledom this is true, but as soon as "app" came into widespread usage, it immediately started to apply to all programs, not just mobile apps. Back end we developers call that their API-serving web services, for example.

@mdhughes @sexybiggetje @fribbledom app, application, program: just different words for the same fucking thing

@mdhughes @fribbledom Wrong. The N800 and N900 were out before the iphone, and they both had those.

@ersatzmaus @fribbledom That's false. The N800 was vaporware just before the iPhone. The N810 came out 6 months later, and went back to the Sidekick-like keyboard. The N900 was even more Blackberry-like. The programs were mostly built in, the store wasn't worldwide. None of the Nokia smartphones sold well/at all in the US, only their dumbphones.

@mdhughes @fribbledom Well, I actually worked on them both and held them and used them, but Ok.

@ersatzmaus @mdhughes @fribbledom fond memories of my definitely-real, definitely-before-iPhone n800. I don’t remember making calls on it though.

@ersatzmaus @mdhughes @fribbledom that said I really think the iPhone was legitimately a turning point for smart phone things.

@jmtd @ersatzmaus @mdhughes @fribbledom the iPhone worked without a stylus.

That changed everything. That's a huge part of what made the iPhone not the same thing as a PDA with a dialler

@directhex @jmtd @mdhughes @fribbledom Err.... the NXXX series didn't need a stylus either did they (it's been a while but I don't _think_ they did)? And they were _much_ more capable phones _and_ computing devices than the iphone 1. Could actually do things like multitask and cut and paste text from webpages and whatnot.

@directhex @jmtd @mdhughes @fribbledom Anyway, long story short: The iphones were neither first nor best. They had the RDF going for them but they honestly deserved to lose imo.

Apple did, however, _not_ shoot themselves in the foot like certain manufacturers I could name.

@ersatzmaus @jmtd @mdhughes @fribbledom Nxx0 had a resistive touchscreen, which is practically unusable with fingertips.

Any claim that you can use one without a stylus (or fingernail) is a manufacturer lie

@directhex @ersatzmaus @jmtd @mdhughes @fribbledom so what's the problem with styluses?

I think they're actually better than fingertips, because styluses/fingernails are way more precise.

@LunaDragofelis @jmtd @directhex @ersatzmaus @fribbledom The stylus is much more awkward, you have to take it out, you need two hands (or set the device down), and it can be lost.

Capacitative touch screens can be operated instantly, can do multi-touch (which doesn't work on old resistive screens). And in UX terms, it feels like you're directly manipulating the screen, instead of dragging a pointer around. It's as much a leap forward as mouse & GUI was over keyboard-only text UI.

@mdhughes @jmtd @directhex @ersatzmaus @fribbledom a resistive touchscreen can also be operated instantly and with one hand, especially with the fingernails. Which in my opinion is way better than having to use the flat part of my finger on a capacitive touchscreen - I have long fingernails which block my fingertips.

and there's been multi-touch resistive touchscreens for quite a while, it's just that barely anyone cared because capacitive was too popular by then.

also, I did use resistive touchscreen devices (some nokia touchscreen phone as well a Nintendo DS) for quite some time before I got my first smartphone. It does feel pretty natural, just like writing/drawing with a pen feels pretty natural.

It's not like a mouse, which is even more indirect - hand moves mouse, mouse moves pointer, pointer interacts with objects on-screen. With styluses, it's more like: hand moves stylus, stylus interacts with objects on screen.

And I think that little indirection is way offset by the way higher precision of a thin stylus tip in comparison to a thick, soft fingertip.

@LunaDragofelis @jmtd @directhex @ersatzmaus @fribbledom Multi-touch resistive screens are newer (at the time of the iPhone launch they were only single-touch), and have even lower actual resolution. You can feel like a stylus gives more resolution, and it does mouse-tracking to fake it, but it actually has a fuzzier area.

The market's spoken very clearly on this, everyone went to capacitive, even Nintendo, except for the very lowest-end uses.

@LunaDragofelis @jmtd @directhex @ersatzmaus @fribbledom It is worth noting, Apple wasn't quite the first to use capacitive touchscreens: LG Prada had one a few months earlier, priced even higher (and failed to sell much, like all LG "high-end" phones). The screens were otherwise so new nobody had them.

@mdhughes @jmtd @directhex @ersatzmaus @fribbledom I'd still prefer resistive, and I hate it that there's basically nothing on the market that has a resistive touchscreen.

Also the problem with capacitive touchscreen precision isn't the screen itself, it's the finger which touches a far larger area and obscures the screen much more.

With a stylus I'd have much more control over where I'm exactly touching.

@LunaDragofelis @mdhughes @directhex @ersatzmaus @fribbledom I’ve been meaning to look into the tech behind apple’s recent pens for iPads. I don’t know what they’re doing but they feel really good

@ersatzmaus @jmtd @mdhughes @fribbledom plus the N900 was _2 years_ after the iPhone. N810/800 had no GSM capability (yes, for internal politics reasons, whatever) so isn't relevant to the smartphone discussion any more than a decade or more of Windows CE devices.

@jmtd @mdhughes @fribbledom The 800 couldn't call (it got nerfed pre-release) but the 900 could.

@ersatzmaus @jmtd @fribbledom The N800 was a big chunky wifi phablet, and vapor, announced at CES but rarely/never saw US stores. Was it big in Europe? I never saw it again, and online history seems minimal.
gives UK pricing which suggests it sold there…

N810 came out 6+ months after iPhone and was another big chunky wifi phablet with keyboard. But it shipped. The N900 came out 2 years later!

@mdhughes @fribbledom Also, the browsers on those earlier phones were incomplete at best. Safari on the iPhone 1 was the first to really behave like a desktop browser.

Don't get me wrong, I loved my Treo, and the couple of smartish phones I had before that, but the iPhone was genuinely game changing.

@W9SMG @fribbledom Yeah, same. Mobile Safari was super amazing (and still is; I hate browsing on my little Nook tablet). I had Opera on my Treo, but it wasn't as good, and so very slow.

@mdhughes @fribbledom
Sony Ericsson had full screen smartphones with touch interface and apps 4 years before Apple.

(Sure, it had a keyboard that flipped over the front, but you could remove that.)

@mathew @fribbledom Same as the Palm & Blackberry devices, a tiny resistive screen with stylus and a hard keyboard isn't nice to use.

The article you linked is wrong about the screen rez, Wiki & other reviews say 208x320 (iPhone 1 was 320x480!), which is much more plausible.

@mdhughes @fribbledom The point is Apple didn't invent smartphones, or even touchscreen smartphones with apps, full e-mail clients and a web browser.

@mdhughes @fribbledom
»all-programs-are-apps «
I#m still stumped by this. Does that expression carry any meaning except describing a marketing stunt?

To me, that's synonymous to "let's call this thing something else to make it look special" -- or is there any more to it?

@Mr_Teatime @fribbledom You could hit a single worldwide storefront, shipped on the device, buy an "app" that does one thing well, and can't interfere with anything else. So people could safely try random apps for a few bucks.

Doing that in Handango etc at the time was a massive pain to set up, they covered only a few countries, credit card & payment to the dev sucked and was usually 30-70 or worse, and every device was inconsistent. I did it and it was hell.

So kinda like the repo for your Linux distro, but for money :)

Put this way, it does make some sense, though: less-privileged application, distributed/sold through the platform provider's portal.

Which also emphasizes the shift in the power balance. Whoever makes the OS holds all the strings.

@Mr_Teatime @fribbledom Yeah, but also iOS is massively more secure than a Linux distro, and each app is like a BSD jail (slightly different mechanics but many of the same tools).

It's also very liberating as a dev, not needing a giant support org to ship & make money.

Yes, sure makes dev lifes easier. Sort of like Steam catalyzed a wave of indie games. But then it also causes issues whenever It Is Decided that your thing is not worthy because of reasons which you either already know or are not worthy of being told...

I if the software distributuon was run by (several) entities different from the OS maker and the platform provider that could be nice, but no company would voluntarily relinquish this amount of control.
@fribbledom it is pretty disgusting that people say Apple invented the smart phone when there was other funds out there Ruddick android and other systems that were using apps in the whole 9 yards. Apples marketing team really just spends a lot of time getting people to bullshit us

@fribbledom we had downloadable "apps" that could be installed on handheld touchscreen devices well before anyone stuck a cell modem in one of them, even.

@fribbledom Guess it depends on how old the articles author is. the younger ones seldom care or know about 'older' technology.
They also often don't know that most of the current Apple designs is a blant copy of early 50's Braun designs.

@fribbledom The paranoia in me screams it's "Big Money" rewriting history for their benefit.

@fribbledom Just going to forget about that Blackberry I used to own, I guess.

I've been told it didn't exist.

@carcinopithecus @fribbledom

Are we allowed to use Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences?

Should we be using a Growth Mindset approach?

@fribbledom no mention of Blackberry? Their curve model came out an entire month before the original iPhone did.

@fribbledom With the development of the Internet, we have a new field of work called the fake information and fake news sector.

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