Tatiana Ayazo /RD.comIf you’re an iPhone user who recently had to deal with that annoying “A ⍰” glitch, it may not have escaped your notice that a gadget called the iPhone was unable to type the letter I. But, irony aside, do you even know what that now-iconic letter I is short for?
Your first guess might be “Internet,” since the iPhone’s claim to fame is its ability to access the Web. Or maybe you think it means “I” as in the personal pronoun “I,” since you can personalize your smartphone with the apps and features of your choice. (This is what your smartphone choice says about your personality.) But you’ll be surprised to know that there is not one but five different I-words that the I in iPhone represents.
That little “I” actually got its start long before the iPhone became a reality. The first Apple product with an “I” in its name was the iMac computer, released back in 1998. Never mind phones that could access the Internet—back then, computers that could do so were a rarity. So, yes, the “I” originally stood for Internet, to highlight the Mac’s revolutionary Internet capacities. But when that first iMac launched, the “I” had several other meanings as well. When Steve Jobs introduced the iMac, he displayed a presentation (charmingly old-fashioned by today’s standards) with four other potential I-meanings. These were: “individual,” “instruct,” “inform,” and “inspire.” The “I” prefix then stuck around for most of Apple’s succeeding products. Thanks to the very Internet that so excited the Apple crew, you can watch Jobs’ presentation on YouTube.
So there you have it: five meanings. However, it does seem like “Internet” is the main meaning while the other I-words might have just been more of a marketing plug. “Internet” is certainly the primary meaning in the iPhone’s case, since its Internet access was its biggest selling point (especially when it debuted in 2007). That being said, though, some Apple products with I-names didn’t even have Internet access (think the early iPod!). So it’s still cool to know that the I is open to Interpretation.
Want some more iPhone secrets? Learn about the mouse that’s been hidden in the keyboard this whole time.