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Why Apple says the first iPhone did not have this basic function

You may not know it (anymore), but the first iPhone, released in 2007, did not have any specific basic functionality. A former engineer finally explains via Twitter now – years later – why that is. The answer is not very satisfying, but it sounds very logical from his point of view.

Ken Kocienda is an engineer who joined Apple in 2001 and was responsible, along with a team, for the first iPhone. This past Sunday, the man shared an anecdote about his time at Apple, addressing why that smartphone didn’t have a copy/paste feature. The short answer: lack of time.

iPhone couldn’t cut and paste

The slightly longer answer: the team did not have enough time to “do this right,” Kocienda said. The former Apple engineer was too busy taking care of other things for the first operating system. Think of the keyboard, autocorrect and things like text messaging functions. So copy and paste quickly fell by the wayside.

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The original iPhone didn’t have cut/copy/paste. Infamous! The quickest explanation is that I didn’t have time to do it right. I had too much keyboard, autocorrection, and text system work to do. The design team didn’t have time either. So we passed on the feature for 1.0.

– Ken Kocienda (@kocienda) June 19, 2022

After the first iPhone hit the market and the iOS system was at version 1.0, the team did have time to work on such functionality. As a result, Apple’s smartphone did get the option to copy and paste texts at a later date. By the way, Kocienda has some funny facts.

Zooming in on the text

For example, Kocienda shares that his idea was to be able to zoom in on the text so that you could read everything better. To do this, all you had to do was rest your finger on a text, then it would be magnified. In addition, the engineer makes another comment about how WebKit was responsible for all the text.

“All customizable text on the first iPhone was supported by WebKit,” says Kocienda. “The system used small web pages that it distributed here and there. Each UITextView of several lines was its own web page.”