When Steve Jobs introduced the original iPhone to the world, the prototype's screen actually featured hard plastic instead of cover glass, Apple's COO Jeff Williams told an audience of plant workers, reporters, business, and community leaders Friday at Corning's Harrodsburg, Kentucky, facility.
The world loved it, but there was one problem. Steve called to tell his COO that when he carried the device in his pocket, the screen scratched right away.
"He said, 'We need glass,'" Jeff told the group. "And I said, within three to four years, technology may evolve…
"He said, 'No, when it ships in June it needs to be glass. I don't know how we're going to do it, but when it ships in June it's gotta be glass.'"
That's where Corning came in, Jeff explained.
"Wendell said, 'I think I have an idea.' The teams scrambled. When we launched in June, customers had an iPhone that had the beautiful feel of Corning glass and was scratch resistant. It helped set the tone for iPhone."
Jeff used this story to explain why Corning is the first company to receive an investment from Apple's new Advanced Manufacturing Fund as part of the company's commitment to foster innovation among American manufacturers. Earlier Friday, Apple announced that it would be making a $200 million investment in support of Corning's R&D, capital equipment needs, and state-of-the-art glass processing focused on work done at Corning's Harrodsburg facility.