You think the mythology swirling around Apple and the iPhone is impressive? The ghost of Steve Jobs ain’t got nothin’ on Lars Magnus Ericsson. As the lemmings line up across the country fortheir golden Apple communicatorsand the pundits hail the new iOS 7 mobile operating system as a work of otherworldly Ivian genius, let’s take a moment to remember the late, great Lars — the Swedish founder of the Ericsson radio and telephone empire. The history books will tell you that in 1910, on a farm in Sweden, more than three decades before Steve Jobs was even born, Lars Magnus Ericsson invented the world’s first car phone. By 1910, Ericsson had retired from life as a telecommunications mogul, retreated to the Swedish countryside with his wife Hilda, and turned himself into a farmer — some 10 decades before growing your own food became a cliche among the tech elite. But, the history books say, he also found the time to equip his car with a phone. Asexplained by John Meurling and Richard Jeans, authors of theMobile Phone Book: The Invention of the Mobile Telephone Industry, Ericsson equipped his car with a phone that could hook into the telephone lines running along the side of the road — after he parked and Hilda pulled out her sticks. “There were two long sticks, like fishing rods, handled by Hilda. She would hook them over a pair of telephone wires, seeking a pair that were free, ” he book reads. “When they were found, Lars Magnus would crank the dynamo handle of the telephone, which produced a signal to an operator in the nearest exchange. ” In his bookConstant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone, University College London professor Jon Agar describes Ericsson’s “car-carried” phone as an historic milestone. “Ericsson’s vehicle showed that the technologies of communication could be fitted in an automobile, the first instance in a long and profound association between two technologies of mobility that have shaped our modern world,” he writes. The only trouble is that the story isn’t true. “Lars Magnus Ericsson and Hilda never owned a car. None of them even had a license,” says Ericsson director of external communications Jimmy Duvall. He says their son, Gustaf LM Ericsson, used to give them a lift in his car, but the car-phone thing probably never happened. Duvall has no idea how this urban legend got started. But the technique that Meurling and Jeans describe was pretty standard fare for those working with telephony back in Ericsson’s day. In fact, Axel Boström, Ericsson’s successor as CEO of Ericsson, did much the same thing when he was on the road. “Axel B was a car lover of great proportions. Since cars in the early 1900s were not as reliable, he always had with him a phone and a cane that he could use to connect to the line, which always lay beside the rode at the time, if or when, the car began to strike,” wrote Duvall. “The stick is preserved at the Technical Museum in Stockholm.” Boström died in a car accident in 1909 — before the arrival of Lars and Hilda’s mythological car phone. So there’s some truth to the myth. Take that, Apple.