Not only was I tasked by Scott Forstall with building a browser and building a team to build that browser, I had to keep the whole damn project a secret. Which, by the way, really complicated the shit out of hiring most of the original team since I couldn’t tell them what they were working on until they took the job.
He also has some interesting comments at Hacker News.
I would love to claim the foresight of planning for the iPhone all along. Alas, that was not the case. :) For any of us.
We built our own browser because we didn’t want to depend on another company for a critical application.
We built our own browser engine because we wanted to use the technology in more things than a browser.
We built that engine small and fast because Bertrand Serlet would have shot me if I had done otherwise. :)
You have to remember that Mac OS X itself was smaller in those days. Not iOS small, but considerably smaller that it is now.
After the initial success of Mac Safari, there was a time when I was second-guessed by some for choosing KHTML and KJS as the basis for WebKit. When we decided to do the iPhone, I was suddenly a genius again. :)
To drive home Don’s point about how secret Alexander was: I was given official access to Marklar months before Alexander. Since there was no Rosetta at that time the Intel builds of OS X had no bundled web browser (and porting Chimera or Mozilla were clearly nowhere on that team’s priority list at the time, for obvious reasons). I was eventually given access to Alexander largely because I was doing enough Intel related work that it was necessary to have access to a browser on my Intel machines.
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