The Simpsons' 'Eat Up Martha' was the first autocorrect fail

Apple's software engineers were so haunted by a gag in The Simpsons they spent years trying to nail the keyboard in the iPhone, new interviews reveal.

Apple's software engineers were so haunted by a gag in The Simpsons they spent years trying to nail the keyboard in the iPhone.

As part of an 'oral history' -- essentially a lot of interviews sewn together -- about the Californian company, Fast Company interviewed dozens of former Apple execs. One particularly juicy tidbit it's just revealed is that software engineers working on the iPhone were traumatised by the Simpsons making fun of the ancient Newton tablet's handwriting recognition in 1995.

In the episode Lisa On Ice, school bully Dolph tries to write a memo to "beat up Martin", the squeaky voiced know it all. It comes out "Eat up Martha", at which the unlucky tablet is hurled in the direction of the aforementioned dork.

"In the hallways [at Apple] and while we were talking about the keyboard, you would always hear the words 'Eat Up Martha'," says Nitin Ganatra, formerly Apple's director of engineering for iOS. "We needed to nail the keyboard. We needed to make sure the text input works on this thing, otherwise, 'Here comes the Eat Up Marthas.'"

Wonderfully, Apple achieved no such thing and its notoriously unreliable autocorrect function has spawned a thousand Internet lols.

The new articles also spill the beans on Sir Jony Ive's apparently fractious, intense relationship with Steve Jobs.

"Jony complained that a lot of the things that Steve took credit for were his ideas. Jony has a very political agenda when it comes to his positioning within the company," says former senior Apple designer Doug Satzger, who adds, "He projects this soft-spoken English gentleman persona… There are many people who are not at Apple because Jony has decided that person was in his way."

The article also reveals that the Apple Store's Genius Bar was a simple attempt to fill up space in a shop that only had a few products to flog.

"[Jobs] wanted to do a store with a large presence, but at the time Apple had two laptops, two desktops, and not a lot of software," says architect Tim Kobe. "So we had to come up with a lot of other things: the photo zone, the kids area, the Genius Bar, the theater. Those were all outcomes of trying to create an experience that was distinctly Apple and different from the kind of experience most people would have had with technology."

Apple Stores are now so successful they attract thousands every time a new iPhone comes out. Just this morning, over 1,000 people were queueing outside the Covent Garden store in London for the 8am opening -- including this surrealist comedian.

Check out our gallery of the iPhone 5S and 5C going on sale at the biggest Apple Stores around the world over at CNET.com.

What are your worst autocorrect fails? Was it all downhill for The Simpsons after that episode? Can you tell it's Friday afternoon? Hit me up in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

 

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