Revealed in Steve Jobs’ biography was his disappointment with the plastic display screen to be used on the first Apple iPhone.
Jobs, co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc., learned initial 2006 tests revealed the plastic display screen was highly vulnerable to surface scratches.
He wanted a stronger and more scratch-resistant glass-like material to be used for the iPhone display screen; however, time was of the essence.
Jobs called Wendell Weeks, CEO of Corning Incorporated, a company which has been making glass for well over 100 years.
Weeks told Jobs about a unique strength-hardened glass which Corning had developed in the 1960s.
This promising chemically-strengthened glass was experimented with but eventually abandoned, Weeks explained.
However, Jobs was immensely intrigued by the story.
He persuaded the Corning CEO to re-develop and manufacture this special glass so it could be used with Apple’s upcoming new iPhone.
Jobs told Weeks that within six months, he would need enough of the glass to be used on 1 million iPhones.
No pressure, right?
Corning quickly responded, and re-tooled their Kentucky plant (which made liquid crystal display (LCD) screens) to produce enough of the special glass to be used on the first iPhones.
And so, it was a Corning glass display screen on the first generation of iPhone’s sold in June 2007.
One year later, Corning publicly announced “Gorilla Glass” as a durable, scratch-resistant protective cover for other mobile handheld devices using touchscreens.
Rumors circulated for years that Corning actually manufactured Gorilla Glass in the 1960s.
Corning’s webpage says this belief is a “popular myth;” however, they did reveal experimenting with “chemically strengthened glass” in 1960, under the code name: Project Muscle.
Through the knowledge obtained from Project Muscle, Corning created a new damage-resistant glass called Chemcor in 1961.
Chemcor glass became popularly used in everyday kitchen glassware items, such as cookware, and was used for eyeglass lenses, and in automobiles and aircraft.
Gorilla Glass, according to Corning, is a different product and glass composition than Chemcor.
Today’s Corning Gorilla Glass is made using a proprietary fusion manufacturing ion-exchange process.
This ion-exchange is a chemical strengthening process where large ions are “stuffed” into the glass surface, creating a state of compression.
The process allows potassium ions to be dispersed beneath the glass surface, creating a high-compressive stress layer deep into the glass.
The compression layer acts like an “armored shield,” making the glass exceptionally tough, lightweight, resistant to scratches, and damage-resistant, thus the name Gorilla Glass.
Gorilla Glass is made in the US, Japan, and Taiwan.
Corning recently announced the next generation of Gorilla Glass.
“Gorilla Glass 6 is the company’s most durable cover glass to date,” according to Corning’s July press release.
Corning disclosed their scientists developed a new “chemically-strengthening” glass composition that provides a higher level of compression.
Gorilla Glass 6 can withstand multiple drops, and is highly resistant to scratches, chips, or breaks.
However, there are limits; if you repeatedly hit the glass with a hammer, of course, it would be damaged.
In 2011, Corning reported 200 million mobile display screens were made of Gorilla Glass.
Just seven years later, more than 40 manufacturers are using Corning glass on some 6 billion smartdevices.
Corning revealed its research team is exploring new application uses for its Gorilla Glass other than consumer electronics.
Although not yet publicly announced, I am confident Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 will be used with the next generation of Apple iPhone screens.
The online Corning Museum of Glass can be viewed at https://www.cmog.org.
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