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The day everyone started touching their phones

Five years ago today, Apple launched what would become the most exciting and successful smartphone ever produced and I was there, in the trenches, on day one.

Employees welcome customers with energetic applause as Apple's newest version of its flagship phone went on sale for the first time.
James Martin/CNET

It was around 6 a.m. when we dragged the first box labeled "iPhones: Do Not Open Until Directed" to the office in the back room of the Apple Store at Bridgeport Village in Portland.

That label, taunting us -- daring us to infringe on Apple's (let's face it, Steve Jobs') strict code of secrecy. A few of us had gathered around the box as the other worker bees continued to prep the floor for what would end up being one of the most important days in Apple's incredible history.

"Hand me that box-cutter."

And that was that. The proverbial cat was out of the box and words could not describe the moment. A few months earlier I was a guest of Apple (voted by my team at the store) in Cupertino to celebrate the sales staff that had been absolutely killing it with Mac sales. In retrospect, it was probably also a pre-thanks for what was about to transpire with the iPhone launch.


It was at that gathering of other sales specialists and our managers that the then-Vice President of Apple Retail Ron Johnson came in to the room to chat with us, paused, gave a quick listen to a faint ringtone, and pulled out a real, working, original iPhone to answer a call.


A stiff nudge from my manager, Mike, "dude, iPhone!" We knew at that second that the device that had been teased at Mac World earlier that year was going to be a game-changer.

When we took out that first iPhone on launch day and powered it on, we felt as though the entire fabric of the world's mobile communication landscape was changing. Chalk it up to being true fanboys (or fanbois?) but as the glowing Apple logo gave way to the swipe-to-unlock graphics, we knew it was going to be huge.

When the OS loaded, there were only a few built-in apps (the App Store and third party development was still a year away), but flipping through the weather reports was enough for us. Safari was enough. The contact list was enough. Johnny Appleseed on speed dial was about to be our life.

The doors opened a few hours later and one of the most insane days in retail history ensued. I was stationed at a table with a mobile checkout solution and worked nonstop for countless hours, genuinely excited for each and every customer as they purchased their iPhones.

That day, Apple became a monster (in a good way, like in "Monsters, Inc.") No longer was the Apple Store a nerdy haven for geeks to talk to employees about new tweaks to Mac OS X that they had uncovered. Now, Apple was a consumer electronics mecca.

I feel I was lucky to have experienced the original Apple Stores, pre-iPhone, and fortunate enough to be a part of a turning point in the mobile communications revolution that has now become an unstoppable force in popular culture.

Were you a part of Apple's original launch day in 2007? Let me know your experience in the comments!