Editor's desk: The secret history of technology

The secret history of technology

Mysteries isn't the right word. There's nothing mysterious about how the technology that shapes our culture and changes our lives came into being. It's a combination of profound insight and arduous work by incredibly talented people. That's why those stories — their stories — are so very important to us. They, the engineers and designers, are the crossroads of science and art, technology and humanity. They are why we have things like the iPhone and iPad, like Safari and Siri. And while not mysteries, their stories have remained largely untold. They've remained secrets. So, why am I repeating this particular refrain?

One of the reasons Guy English and I started the Debug podcast was simply to get a chance to have or finish all the great bar-room chats no one ever has enough time for at shows like WWDC. The other reason was our mutual passion for story, for the "archaeology of the unknown". In both those regards we've been luckier than we ever dreamt possible. We've had guests — brilliant, magnificent guests — who have shared with us their stories, their facets of how much of the mobile, multitouch world came to be.

Just this week we concluded a three part series — 6 hours total! — with Nitin Ganatra, former Director of iOS apps at Apple. If you use the built-in apps on your iPhone or iPad, he led the team that built many of them. Even though I was there recording them when he spoke with us, I've listened to each several more times since. They're that educations. They're that good.

We've been extremely fortunate to have had several other guests generous enough to share their stories with us as well.

Ken Ferry spoke with us about his time working on Cocoa, Auto Layout, and Passbook.

Evan Doll of Flipboard spoke with us about his time on Pro Apps and iOS.

Vicki Murley, Matt Drance, and Jury, former Apple Developer Evangelists all, shared their experiences around working WWDC and engaging the community.

Jonathan Deutsch and Ryan Nielsen, both now on Hype, spoke with us about their time at Apple, including Nielsen's work in the OS X program management office.

David Gelphman spent an amazing 4 hours with us talking about his time working on PostScript, Core Graphics, and AirPrint.

The one and only Don Melton, former Engineering Director of Internet Technologies at Apple spent a couple hours telling us, as only Gramps can, about the development of WebKit and Safari, two things which have shaped the modern, interactive internet.

That's a lot of hours of podcasting, but if you haven't listened to them yet, or missed some of them, and you're at all interesting in how the iPhones and iPads and Macs you hold in your hands and use everyday came into being, I can't recommend them highly enough. Not because of the facts involved. Facts are important, certainly, but are ultimate dry and dead things. Because of the people. Because of the lives and careers spent, the knowledge and experience gained, and the incredible work crafted.

The iPhone and iPad encapsulate among the most important technological and cultural events of the last decade. These are part of their story, and the stories of the people who helped bring them into our world.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Metro1088 says:

Just finished listening to all three podcasts. No regrets!

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