The History of Android: Where Did Google’s Mobile OS Come From?


Android: For most, it is simply a word to describe their device, as in “I have an Android, not an iPhone.” But before it was a household name, Android was just an idea. This idea has been molded, labored after, and improved over the years to become what it is today.

History of Android

The Beginning

The history of Android as we know it starts with a Linux kernal. It is a widely available software that is free from copyright. To this day, Google offers Android to device manufacturers free of charge. This software was the foundation of Android and since has been heavily built upon by its creators and engineers.

A company called Android, Inc. was founded in 2003 by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White. Their early intention was to create a software system to be used in digital cameras. However, the company quickly changed its focus from cameras to smartphones, which had a much larger market. Competitors were having early success with PDA-like devices from Palm, Symbian, and Windows Mobile and Android, Inc wanted in. The company operated mostly in obscurity in its early days, revealing very little about their progress. Such intentional privacy could have been to protect their budding operating system or to save the embarrassment of being strapped for cash. It is reported that a close friend of Andy Rubin tendered $10,000 in cash as a donation of sorts in the early stages of the company.

Moving to a Bigger Building

In 2005, the history of Android hit its next landmark, changing the company and its direction drastically. That year, Google acquired the company, but retained the key employees including Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, and Chris White. This brought Android into the public eye in a big way. Andy Rubin headed up Android at Google and with the piles of resources available to him, he began to develop the more modern and functional version of the operating system.

In 2007, the iPhone was released while Google’s Android was still in development. The work being done at that time looked more like a Blackberry than the touchscreen mini-tablets of today. The success of the iPhone inspired Android’s re-engineering. What came with it was a series of innovations all its own.

Hello World, Meet Android

In 2008, Google’s Android was formally launched with the introduction of the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1 in the USA) handset. The first version of the software was named Cupcake (version 1.5). Every new version since has come with a delicious dessert or candy moniker.

Then, Google launched its Nexus-branded device line in 2010, which forever changed the history of Android and the way it would look and feel. The Nexus devices serve as a “Google Intended Experience” device with no bloatware or changes to the officially released software.

In 2013, Andy Rubin, the longtime champion of Android, was replaced by Sundar Pichai. Andy Rubin moved into a role in the robotics division of Google.

History of Android Wrap-Up

Since its inception in 2003, Android has grown to be one of the most dominant forces behind mobile phones and tablets in the world. Reports claim that Android achieved a 79% market share in mobile devices in 2013. There are few signs of that trend reversing. The history of Android is still in creation, but it was all started by a company that in its first years required a $10,000 donation just to stay afloat. Now, that same company runs their Google Android operating system on over 500 million devices worldwide. In case you were wondering, that is nearly double the devices that Apple has in use.


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