Skip to Content
Alumni profile

Joshua Strickon ’98, MEng ’99, PhD ’03

Think of him as you scroll.

When Joshua Strickon sits down with his wife at a restaurant and sees his fellow diners scrolling through in-boxes or texting on smartphones, he does not turn to her to say, “You know, I helped invent that.” But he could: he’s a patent holder for the multitouch screen.

Joshua Strickon with his wife and son

Yet the popular fixation on technology—which Strickon calls “too much product and not enough filter”—makes him ambivalent about his early work at Apple.

Strickon joined Apple’s input engineering group after earning his MIT degrees working in the Media Lab on new input devices for interactive music, wearable computing, and robotics. “One of my roles was to be part of a secret team with people from Industrial Design and the Platform Experience group that started off with the idea of reënvisioning the input on the Mac,” he says. “That morphed into the motivation to build a tablet.”

Strickon worked on finding glass that would respond to a finger’s touch and creating the circuitry and algorithms that would make that experience easy and pleasant. In the resulting patents, Apple named him as one of three creators of the multipoint touch screen.

Though the technology excited Strickon, Apple was slow to develop it, and he left in 2004. In 2006 he landed a job at the New York Times Company in its newly formed R&D group, just as the company’s mobile properties were being launched.

“The whole company was two years behind in mobile; we were playing catch-up,” he says. “And like all early adopters in the publishing industry, they gave away too much for free.”

Strickon started freelancing in 2008, seeking more control over the development process. While his early work still reverberates—he was subpoenaed three times in Apple’s recent disputes with Samsung and Motorola—he is busy thinking about his next projects.

From his Miami home, dubbed Ocean View Lab, Strickon now counts Disney and Hasbro as consulting clients. He also sits on the board of Thrill Science, a consulting company that works with the entertainment industry, and volunteers for the computer graphics organization ACM SIGGRAPH. He enjoys the freedom that comes with following his own instincts as he develops robotics, toy, and tech projects.

“I’m a big fan of simple interfaces,” he says. “Too often, tech is designed by engineers for engineers. I take a more open approach and think about how things will be used every day.”

When not at work, Strickon kiteboards, trains for half-marathons and triathlons, and enjoys time with his two-year-old son, Jaiden, and his wife, Ilana.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.