Going back to the early days of Android with the ADP1

As a massive self-confessed Google fan, I realised Android was really starting to mature with Android 5.0 lollipop release due in a few weeks time.  It got me thinking about the early days of Android and the hardware in particular.  Now many may think of the Nexus One as the first commercially available true (non-skinned) Android phone but it was in fact the HTC Dream, also branded as the T-Mobile G1.  In particular, I was most interested in the other iteration which few know of….. the Android Dev Phone 1 (ADP1) – This phone was a special edition of the HTC Dream with no carrier branding, a special back cover, ‘vanilla’ android and a completely unlocked bootloader sold to developers.

The phone originally shipped in 2008 with Android 1.0 (Alpha), later updated to 1.1(Beta), 1.5 (Cupcake) and 1.6 (Donut) which is where support officially ended.  Of course, there are many developers still releasing updates but stable versions arguably end around 2.2 Froyo or 2.3 Gingerbread.

So what next…? Well I had to get my hands on one and after many months of checking eBay and searching various sites I managed to find a seller on Amazon marketplace and acquired one recently.  Now annoyingly, the previous owner had flashed the T-Mobile G1 software.  Apparently a lot of owners who actually wanted to use the phone as a daily device did this because Google blocked Market access in the 1.6 update; they did this because as the phone was truly unlocked, people were downloading paid apps and simply copying the downloaded apps from their unprotected phone storage and distributing illegally online.

So I took it upon myself to source the original software and restore the dev phone 1 to it’s original developer software.  The hardest thing was finding a reliable download, it’s now been 5 years since the software was released so most links were dead or failed within a few mb of download.  Eventually I found the file on a file host search (signed-dream_devphone_userdebug-ota-14721.zip), it also needs the radio image (ota-radio-2_22_19_26l.zip) which I obtained by luckily I didn’t need it as it was already flashed.  It was easy to install as the phone already had a custom recovery so all I had to do was rename it to update.zip and flash it via the recovery (Hold Home button whilst switching on to access).

Next, I had to find out how to restore the original splash screen as it still showed the T-Mobile G1 version.  This was really difficult and involved finding some old software to convert the original PNG image to RAW format, then convert that to a format called RGB565, it’s a tool called RGB2565 designed for Linux, although it is possible to run it in Windows with Cygwin.  I found a copy of the original splash screen on XDA developers and converted it to the correct file format, all I needed to do was connect the phone to my PC in fastboot USB mode (Hold Camera button whilst switch on) and flash with the simple command ‘fastboot flash splash1 mysplash.rgb565’ – easy right?…..

Nope!  For some reason my Windows 8.1 PC refused to detect the device correctly, it would show this error – ‘device descriptor request failed’ next to the device in device manager.  Eventually, I found out that my Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H (rev. 1.0) mainboard has two chipsets for the USB ports.  There’s an Intel Z77 chipset (Intel USB 3.0 eXtensible Host Controller) and a VIA VL800.  For some reason the phone has problems connecting through the USB ports hosted by the Intel chipset, but with the VIA chipset it worked just fine and didn’t even ask for any drivers!  Apparently there were some issues in Windows 8.0 and the Intel 7 series USB Host controller drivers provided by Microsoft, there was a work-around to use the drivers provided by Intel instead.  However, Intel do not provide a driver for Windows 8.1 because the USB stack was fixed but I wonder if this is actually true as it obviously does not work for me!  I’m lucky I have the VIA VL800 onboard too!

So, finally I have an original Android Dev Phone 1 with original developer software!  It’s really fun to play with and realise just how far the Android OS has improved in the last 5 – 6 years.

Downloads:
I’ve packaged up all the files mentioned for anyone else wanting to restore their ADP1 and hosted them on my dropbox account here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9560811/Original%20ADP1%201.6%20ROM.zip

A PDF explanation of the USB ports on my Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H (rev. 1.0) motherboard: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9560811/USB%20Ports%20Back%20Panel.pdf

Going back to the early days of Android with the ADP1 | Admin | 4.5