“Steve Jobs’ first experience designing telephones involves the now famous story of the ‘blue box’ device. In the early 1970s, Jobs’ friend Steve Wozniak was captivated by an Esquire story about the creator of a phone-hacking device that made it possible to dial long distance calls for free. Wozniak got to work on his own version of the device right away using his own components,” Brett T. Robinson writes for Wired. “Jobs and Wozniak invited John Draper, aka ‘Captain Crunch,’ one of the mysterious men featured in the Esquire article, to Wozniak’s Berkeley dormitory to show them how to make the box work. Draper was hesitant but ultimately acquiesced. By the end of the evening, the three intrepid hackers decided that their first call should be to the Vatican. It worked.”

“Thirty-five years later, Jobs would introduce the iPhone—a device that would transform the wireless telephone industry. The hacker-turned-billionaire Steve Jobs inadvertently found his prized new device linked to the Vatican again. The iPhone became the subject of a host of religious parodies, most notably earning the moniker ‘Jesus phone,'” Robinson writes. “The godly description of Apple’s signature gadget started with a joke by Gizmodo contributor Brian Lam. Lam coined the term “Jesus phone” in a blog post, and it quickly spread through the online tech news community.”

“Technologies like the iPhone put us in touch with an immense, global, and decentered network. The scale of this network is only dimly perceivable. It evokes sublime descriptors like ‘Jesus phone’ because it alludes to something that cannot be shown or presented — where the imagination fails to produce an object to match the concept… The idolatry reserved for Apple products stems from its role as privileged cultural mediator, a symptom of which is the popular rhetoric ascribing it with sublime properties,” Robinson writes. “The intertextual allusion and parody present in the technology journalism surrounding the iPhone launch are also present in the company’s advertising. The lone print advertisement that preceded the launch of the iPhone was suggestive of this pattern. The ad features the tagline ‘Touching is believing.'”

Robinson writes, “The phrase ‘Touching is believing’ evokes the biblical account of the apostle Thomas, who refused to believe Christ had risen from the dead until he could touch the wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion… The ‘catholic’ or universal appeal of the object is a point worth considering. In the age of iPhone, there is a social obsession with efficiency via process and technology, and it is universal. Whether we own an iPhone or not, the ethic of speed and efficiency is built into nearly all of our cultural practices.”

Much, much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “dedly” for the heads up.]