Gather round, dear readers, it's story time. In 1977, newly recruited cardiologist George Diamond was working on devices and methods to improve diagnostics of heart diseases at LA's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His brilliant mind and a complex probability theorem aside, he didn't have very much to work with - a TI-59 programming calculator with a whopping 1kb of RAM, which he used to write the first health app. It was a program that calculated the probability of heart disease based on test results, and we trust that he didn't name it “Heartie” or “Probabilify”.
Diamond quickly maxed out the calc's memory, so he went to one of Santa Monica's first computer stores and did what many creatives still do today - he bought an Apple computer. Using the $2700 (at the time) Apple II, which had significantly larger 48kb RAM memory, along with two floppy disk drives, Diamond wrote the “complete” first health app - a program which analyzed multiple diagnostic tests for diagnosis of coronary disease. Pleased with the result, he decided to give the whole app startup thing a try – decades before it was even a thing! Alas, one couldn't simply whip up a Kickstarter page back in '77, so Mr. Diamond had to pitch his project the old-school way - by phoning Apple in Cupertino. Which he did. A secretary put Steve Jobs on the line, and minutes later, the two arranged a meeting. The rest of the story is best told in the words of George Diamond himself:
I described to him what I had been doing, and how impressed I was with his device. Other people thought it was a toy, but I thought that, eventually, a computer like this should be on the desk of every doctor in the world. I thought my program could be a means toward that end, and I would love to get his thoughts about it, and if he would be willing to do something to help us advance that idea.
Steve said he was very impressed with what I had done, and that he agreed about the potential for the future, but frankly, he was not interested in working on this. I asked why. He said: ‘You have to understand. This is something that nobody in the world yet understands. I can’t be distracted. I’m trying to make the best hammer I can make, the best hammer in the world. You can use my hammer to tear something down, or you can use it to build something up. I really don’t care what you do with my hammer. I just want to make the best possible hammer. And what you are doing is a wonderful bit of construction, but to me it’s a distraction.’
I really don’t care what you do with my hammer. I just want to make the best possible hammer.At the time, it seems Steve Jobs was only interested in building the best computer possible, and everything else was a "distraction". So George Diamond thanked him, flew back to LA, and proceeded to become Dr. George Diamond, MD. Meanwhile, Apple became Apple, and is currently gearing up to introduce its first health app, Healthbook, which will debut in iOS 8 - a mere 37 years later.