The Apple Of Your Ear

With iPhone, Apple's Steve Jobs applied his revolution-by-design mind to cell phones. An inside look at innovation in action

TONY AVELAR/AFP/Getty Images

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs unveils a new mobile phone that can also be used as a digital music player and a camera, a long-anticipated device dubbed an "iPhone."

The iPhone started out the way a lot of cool things do: as something completely different. A few years ago, Steve Jobs noticed how many development dollars were being spent--particularly in the greater Seattle metropolitan area--on what are called tablet PCs: flat portable computers that work with a touch screen instead of a mouse and keyboard. Jobs, being Jobs, was curious. He had some Apple engineers noodle around with a touch screen. When they showed him what they came up with, he got excited.

So excited he forgot all about tablet computers. He had bigger game to hunt.

Jobs had just...