Man claims he invented iPhone in 1992

  • 04/07/2016
Thomas Ross' 'iPhone' design
Thomas Ross' 'iPhone' design

A Florida man is demanding Apple pay him $14 billion for ripping off his invention - the iPhone.

Thomas Ross claims he came up with the idea in 1992, 15 years before the late Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, which changed handheld computing forever.

In 1992, Mr Ross submitted drawings of what he called an 'Electronic Reading Device' with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Man claims he invented iPhone in 1992

Evidence submitted by Thomas Ross in the lawsuit (supplied)

"What Ross contemplated was a device that could allow one to read stories, novels, news articles, as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touch-screen that was back-lit," his lawsuit claims.

"He further imagined that it could include communication functions, such as a phone and a modem, input/output capability, so as to allow the user to write notes, and be capable of storing reading and writing material utilising internal and external storage media. He also imagined that the device would have batteries and even be equipped with solar panels."

Man claims he invented iPhone in 1992

Another technical drawing Thomas Ross submitted in 1992

He says the Electronic Reading Device's rounded corners "embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992".

A problem Mr Ross faces however is that he never paid the fees for his patent, so it was declared abandoned in 1995. He didn't file his technical drawings to the US Copyright Office until 2014, seven years after the original iPhone.

Perhaps ironically, Mr Ross' Electronic Reading Device looks more primitive than the iPad-like tablets used on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was at the height of its popularity in 1992. In the show, they were even called 'PADD' - Personal Access Display Device.

Man claims he invented iPhone in 1992

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard, of Star Trek: The Next Generation


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