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Five years may not sound like a long time, but when you look at the vast changes in the technology space since Apple started selling its first iPhone, it seems like an eternity.
The date: June 29, 2007. The time: 6pm local. The place: 164 Apple Stores and select AT&T corporate-owned retailers across the United States. Yes, it's already been five years since the first iPhone debuted at retail, with the 4GB model selling for $499 and the 8GB model for $100 more.
Although many pundits were quick to predict failure and heartache for the iPhone, Apple fanatics (this writer included) lined up outside retail stores nationwide hours ahead of time to be one of the first to buy.
“Apple retail stores were created for this moment -- to let customers touch and experience a revolutionary new product,” exclaimed Apple’s then senior vice president of retail Ron Johnson in a press release the day before its release five years ago. “With our legendary Genius Bar support, free workshops and our One to One personal training, we’re here to help customers get the most from their new iPhone.”
The long journey began on January 9, 2007, when Steve Jobs and his lieutenants stepped onto the Macworld Expo stage for what many consider to be the company's ultimate keynote address. Apple fans didn't need fancy, high-tech glasses or skydiving stunts to wow us -- they just pulled out the iPhone and showed us what it could do.
Thus began a nearly six-month wait to actually be able to buy the handset. I must have driven my poor wife nuts during that time in anticipation, and the Motorola SLVR in my pocket became harder to tolerate with each passing day.
All this waiting ultimately culminated with me pulling up a chair outside the local AT&T corporate store around noon that fateful Friday, June 29 for a six-hour wait. At first there were only a handful of us, but by the time the doors opened at 6pm EST, the line stretched around the corner and beyond the camera retailer next door.
I still have that original 8GB iPhone five years later, even though an increasing number of apps refuse to install on its since abandoned iOS 3.1.3 operating system. It was briefly used as a SIM-less iPod touch for my son, who quickly tired of it after realizing he couldn't make phone calls to grandpa and grandma with it. Now, it just sits in a drawer -- but it's far from unloved or unwanted.
Although though I've owned every model since and have wound up selling them shortly after the newest model arrives, I can't bear to let this one go. It may look like a relic of a bygone era now (complete with a big dent in the back of its case), but for the first year I owned it, it was truly the most magical device Apple ever created.
Happy anniversary, iPhone -- we can't wait to see how you'll grow over the next half decade. Feel free to add your own anniversary stories in the comments!
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter