This article was sponsored by Vaka Väinämöinen OÜ

Here at ROK, we’ve spent significant time talking about the evils of the smartphone on society. Its effect on atomizing people, making women dependent on external validation, and ruining our ability to deeply concentrate on the problems that are facing the modern world is well-known.

But did you ever wonder how the invention came to be and the motivations of those behind it? The Smart Device may be the first book of its kind that chronicles the inception of the smartphone’s technological backbone from start to finish. It is the autobiographical story of Johannes Väänänen, and engineer-turned-entrepreneur with a couple of ideas that changed the world, and tells the complete story of how what started as a fun invention ended up in the hands (and brains) of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

If you’ve ever wondered about the process by which our entire world has become enslaved to the almighty cell phone, you need to read this book. Here are five things you may not have known about the smartphone’s humble origins:

1. The Mainstream Device Was Started As A Rogue Engineering Movement

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The original engineers of what would become the technology necessary for smartphone world-domination began from a desire to rebel against the set-in-stone ideas of their predecessors. The author of this book, and a small team of engineers, rejected the hegemony of mobile giants like Nokia for a vision of a better, more user-friendly product they thought would benefit society and make them a lot of money. They were right on at least one of those accounts.

2. It was done for not other reason than “inventor’s delight”

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The author writes frequently about the agony and ecstasy underlining the creative process. While most would expect that the smart phone technology was put together simply for the love of money and girls, and there was much of both, the author cites his main motivation simply as the feeling that we get when we create something from nothing.

What can it be then? Why bother inventing at all in this ready-made world? Wouldn’t it be easier just to be a ‘normal’ businessman, selling ecologically grown potatoes by the ton?

It’s that lovin’ feeling. The deep self-awareness of having successfully done something nobody did before, ever. I call it Inventor’s delight.

3. People knew it was a big idea – and were willing to break the law for it

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Like any other major project, the invention of the smartphone was not without its attempts at industrial espionage and all-out extortion.

Driving our company’s flagship Citroen C5 V6 to the airport parking lane, I saw three men running towards our car. There was a bloated shorty at the front, waving a stack of bint papers in his hand, followed by a couple of mammoth sized guys who looked like Chechen security goons. Harri shouted: “Drive on, they are about to do for us!” After a second of confusion I picked up on the situ and accelerated. Sonera’s security chief actually jumped in front of the car and I had to do a sudden swerve to avoid hitting him.

I thought… waaatta hell was this. Something like this never happened in civilized Finland – or did it? And after thinking about the episode a bit – how could they know we would be arriving at the airport at that time? Illegal mobile phone surveillance, tracking where we were, or even listening to our phone calls? Accessing airlines’ databases illegally to follow Harri? Oh shit, what had I gotten into with him?

4. Apple originally had no interest in it

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The author describes a lackluster, run-of-the-mill pitch meeting at Apple’s offices in Cuptertino, where the room was dominated by the apathy of “not invented here” (NIH) and the technology barely turned any heads.

Steve Jobs appeared to the room at the end of the meeting. I didn’t really get to introduce myself to him, he just took one of the myDevice in his hand and started flicking myBook’s pages forwards and backwards, again and again, commenting shortly that sometimes the swipe recognition did not work correctly – which was true, it was still a prototype […] My answer went uncommented upon…

We all know that Apple went on to use the author’s technology and their internal design principles to create perhaps the most influential invention of the 21st century. You’ll have to read the book to find out why they initially didn’t see the potential in such an invention.

5. The creator now understands the effect of this Frankenstein’s monster on society

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It’s hard for any reasonable person to look at the advent of smartphones and their complete domination of our cultural landscape without lamenting something that we have lost in personal relationships and attention span. The man who was at the central of this cultural force reflects:

Did MyOrigo and Apple open Pandora’s box, bringing usability and instant connectivity to everybody’s pocket, enabling 24/7 social networking? There is some comfort in the notion that it would have happened anyway, maybe later, maybe in a slightly different form. But it is done now, that’s for sure. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Always looking for that next endorphin dose; next comment or thumb up to a recent selfie.

[…]

It seems nobody can boil an egg, or write a one-page document, without checking their Instagram account in the middle.

What have we done?

This book is an absolute goldmine for a techie who is looking to develop the next big hardware or software revolution, but there is more than enough information and analysis of the personal relationships and struggles about starting a business that the pop culture enthusiast will enjoy it as well. The Smart Device can also be used as a manual for the budding entrepreneur, since it lays out in detail the dos and don’ts of starting a new business in the tech industry. In the course of the novel, you’ll also learn why patenting is basically a scam, how quickly the people involved can destroy even the most solid company, and how the money, girls, and fame can come and vanish in a flash.

Book - The Smart device - Amazon

Click here to buy The Smart Device and learn how a handful of dedicated engineers and the genius of a few select men, included the author, wrought this unstoppable force on today’s social world. The price is lowered to $5.99 on Kindle and $11.99 for a physical copy on CreateSpace for a limited time.

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