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iPhone: A walk down Memory Lane

What's in a name?

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The iPhone has been with us for many years, in a variety of forms, and its slow and painstaking development has taken many twists and turns before reaching its forthcoming destination.

Originally known as Eyephone, the band was formed as a follow-up to the techno-project The Feedback Bleep, in 1994, and went on to have several albums and remixes until 1997.

Changing the name to iPhone, the first telephony related incarnation was a PC-to-PC-voice application, developed by one Jeremy Stanley to run under Windows 95 and released in April 2001. Full-duplex VoIP was possible over slow speed connections, although network operators and phone manufacturers were slow to recognise the threat the iPhone presented.

In 2004 iPhone moved onto Palm OS with another VoIP application, this time from TapTarget, and much more indicative of the direction the moniker was heading. iPhone was now a hand-held telephone, at least as a proof of concept if not actually a commercial product.

As a commercial product the Internet Phone Company launched its iPhone service in 2004: offering phone calls over the internet but with no interest in mobile telephony. These days everyone from Maltanet to Freenet.de is offering an internet telephony service called iPhone.

But back in 2004 Telenor was harking back to the original name and researching the potential of Mobile EyePhone virtual reality equipment: given the lack of progress since we must assume that their conclusions were not positive.

Getting back to being a hardware device we have the iPhone from Teledex; a VoIP fixed-line handset for hotel rooms and conference centres launched in 2005. This has a screen and can make phone calls, but it's hardly portable.

Even less like a phone is the iPhone from Comwave, so much so that it requires a phone handset to be connected. It does all the VoIP stuff, enabling a couple of VoIP lines, while connecting to normal phone handsets to offer a consistent user experience.

In to 2006 we have a plethora of VoIP handsets available from Linksys, eGenius, and nameless Asian manufacturers. Some wired, and some wireless, and at least one with a colour screen offering an insight into future directions for the name.

The iPhone has had a long and varied genesis, there are even rumours that Apple may plan to do something with the name at some point. This should assure its future is as successful as its past. ®

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