The Hiptop and Sidekick

The Hiptop pre-dates the Apple iPhone by several years. The Danger / Hiptop / Sidekick platform had the first apps and app store ("Catalog"). After leaving Danger, Andy Rubin and several of the team founded Android, and he sold that to Google where he then built what we now know as Android. Many ideas from Android are seen in early stages here in the hiptop, the app catalog, including the use of Java as an implementation language but a different VM implementation, and the use of Intent (which sprang from, among other things, requests I made about my flipsheet program being able to handle email CSV attachments).

The strongest area where Android and Hiptop differed is in their openness: the Hiptop was an exclusive developer club and very difficult to get information. Even though the SDK was documented, you had to get approved, and agree not to discuss with others, in much more closed way than the Apple developer program is today. Instead of being able to build a strong ecosystem, this secrecy encouraged app developers to fight each other. Still, a few of us managed to band together and share information, but the precariousness of the situation lead to many tense situations. I was so very glad that Android at Google was more open, and it's been a huge success.

Purchase of first hiptop

I bought the 2nd hiptop sold, at the T-Mobile store across the street from Danger HQ on University Ave in Palo Alto. My wife Becky stoold in line for me because I had a W3C committee conference call to attend, but I showed up at 8:15 or so and took my place in line as #2. I got interviewed by Elizabeth Biddlecombe of the Register and Ian Fried (now Ina Fried) of CNET. Here's teh CNET link; I'm at hte bottom: At Hiptop debut, Danger rolls up sleeves.. The Register article appears to be gone, and Elizabeth has moved back to England, but I remember she asked me if I thought it was a game-changer. I replied that it wasn't the Sony Walkman but it was a breakthrough. In retrospect, I think that was accurate: the iPhone, like the Walkman, changed society, but the technology all started with Danger and Andy Rubin and the other people at Danger. I still have tremendous respect for them personally and for their achievements.

Mike Popovic came out with the first shared blog, Hiptop Nation, and when the beta version of camera came out he sent me a photo attachment. It was 120x96, SPI interface I think, and looked like a lollipop. I sent Mike a two-line perl script to do the MIME decode and he got it working and HN turned into the first shared photo blog. Mike could have written the image code himself, but once I sent him the perl it became a challege and he did it quickly.