Chris Lattner on creating Swift, leaving Apple

Chris Lattner, who spearheaded LLVM, CLANG, and the Swift programming language at Apple, recently left the company for Tesla. There was a lot of sound-and-fury following the departure, though not much of it informed by much more than the desire for a headline or social share.

Luckily, John Siracusa, Casey Liss, and Marco Arment got Lattner to join them on their podcast, ATP.

John Siracusa: Here's the thing on this topic: unless there's some kind of secret doomsday thing about Apple that only Chris knows, it's not actually that important that we figure out why he left Apple or what was in his heart of hearts, aside from just us being busybodies and just wanting to know, gossip type stuff. Second, pragmatically speaking, this is just not the type of thing that people who leave Apple talk about or, if they do talk about it, it's years and years later after no one cares anymore or it's not a big deal. Even if there was some deep, dark reason, it's not like we would know about it until years from now and, honestly, the straight-forward boring explanation is probably the right one anyway. I don't know. What [1:00] do you think, Chris?Chris Lattner: That sounds about right to me, John.

The whole interview is great and for reasons far beyond Lattner's career moves. On the creation of Swift:

Initially, it was really just me messing around and nobody knew about it because it wasn't anything to know about. But eventually, it got a little bit more serious and I said, hey, after [21:30] playing around a little bit, I think that this actually could make sense. So I started talking to my management and some of the engineers that were working on Clang, and they seemed excited about it. We got a couple people working on it part-time and I convinced my manager that it was interesting enough that we could have a couple of people work on it. Now, this wasn't a major commitment. This was an, "Okay, let's see what there is here," and that started a [22:00] kind of internal demo schedule and other things where we set milestones in place and tried to justify the investment that was being put into it.

I'll stop quoting. You start listening:


Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.