What the "i" in iPhone Stands For

The answer might just surprise you.

Many—if not most—of the more than 2 billion iPhone users around the globe treat their little device like an additional appendage. Nowadays, the smart technology is used for everything from sending emails and watching movies, to buying stocks and making sure pictures are hung straight. As much as we use our phones, though, there is one thing that most iPhone users still don't know: what that little "i" stands for in the first place.

While some may assume that the "i" in "iPhone" stands for the personal pronoun—as in, this is my phone, and I own it—late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs revealed back in 1998 that the iconic letter preceding many of the company's device names actually has an entirely different meaning. During the company's announcement of the iMac computer in 1998, Jobs declared that the company's popular prefix was there to indicate one of its products' main functionalities: getting people on the internet.

"An iMac comes from the marriage of the excitement of the internet with the simplicity of Macintosh," Jobs said in the address. "We are targeting this for the number one use that consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the internet—simply and fast."

However, that's not the only thing that little letter stands for. In the same keynote, Jobs revealed that there are four additional meanings behind the letter: The "i" also stands for "individual," "instruct," "inform," and "inspire."

steve jobs iMac keynote address, what the i in iPhone stands for
Apple via YouTube

"We are a personal computer company, and though this product is born to network, it also is a beautiful standalone product. We're targeting it also for education—they want to buy these—and it's perfect for most of the things they do in instruction," said Jobs. "It's perfect for finding tremendous sources of information over the internet, and we hope, as you see the product, it will inspire us all to make even better products in the future."

While many of Apple's more recent products—like the MacBook, Apple Watch, and Apple Pay—have eschewed the company's previous "i"-centric branding, it's clear that the trailblazing company hasn't strayed far from its original mission all these years later. And for some bright ideas for how to use your technology, check out these 20 Things You Didn't Know Your Smartphone Could Do.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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