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First Mention: iPhone


This fight between law enforcement and Apple seems like the right moment to dip into our feature...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: First mention.

SHAPIRO: To discover when NPR initially spoke the word, iPhone.


We first talked about the iPhone on NPR's air on December 29, 2006. It came in the answer to a question by host Madeleine Brand on our former program Day To Day. She was interviewing reporter Janet Babin about run-in Apple had at the time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


MADELEINE BRAND, BYLINE: Well, what's next for the company, then?

JANET BABIN, BYLINE: Well, analysts are very optimistic. They say, you know, Apple's expected to sell 15 to 16 million iPods for the December quarter and 1.7 Mac computers - a lot of sales. And then, on January 9, Piper Jaffray expects apple to debut its long-awaited product, the iPhone, that combines the iPod with a phone. And that's expected to keep the company's popularity and profits up.

SHAPIRO: A little more than a week later, on January 9, 2007, there was Steve Jobs on stage to make a big announcement for that combination iPod and cell phone.


STEVE JOBS: And we are calling it iPhone.


JOBS: Today - today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.

SHAPIRO: Later that June, Apple released its first iPhone.

SIEGEL: Well, in a First Mention feature, normally we'd stop right there, but we need to go to 1998. You see, there was another so-called iPhone introduced then. The company that brought it to the world was called InfoGear.

SHAPIRO: It had the lowercase I and the uppercase P, just like Apple's later invention. In this 1998 iPhone, the I stood for information, not Internet. And on December 11, 1998, eight years before NPR mentioned the Apple iPhone, Science Friday host Ira Flatow was taking Christmas gift suggestions from listeners.


IRA FLATOW: We're talking about high-tech gifts and toys and stuff this year. Let's go to Newton, right outside Boston, to Debbie. Hi, Debbie.

DEBBIE: Hi. How are you?

FLATOW: Hi there. You've got a suggestion for us?

DEBBIE: I do - something called an iPhone lowercase I, phone - all one word. And what it is is it's a telephone and it - that gets you onto the net. It's about the size of a telephone with an answering machine - that kind of a size.

FLATOW: So you do away with the whole big PC and everything?

DEBBIE: You don't need a PC. You don't need a computer.

FLATOW: Well, it's probably in there and you don't even know it.

DEBBIE: Well, it is in there. You have a keyboard. You can get and receive email. You can get - do web browsing. You know, you can get onto the net. It has a lot of phone features. It has a speakerphone and caller ID.

FLATOW: Have you used this, Debbie?

DEBBIE: I have. I bought it a week ago. And I originally signed up for unlimited - you know, you have options for limited access. It's so user-friendly, it's hard to believe.

SIEGEL: Yes, hard to believe, and safe to say that this iPhone did not change the world.

SHAPIRO: But a decade later, Apple picked up the name. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.