WIRED has published a compelling look at how Corning created Gorilla Glass, which is used in iPhones. Steve Jobs went to Corning in 2005 and convinced CEO Wendell Weeks that is company could invent a new type of glass within six months. That meeting was related in Walter Isaacson's bio of Jobs, but the story of how Corning did it has not been told.
WIRED begins with the company's accidental invention of the material that would become Corningware and goes on from there. For example, one of the first conversations Corning had with Jobs was about a projection technology it was working on. Jobs called it "dumb."
Corning got to work and saw promise in a cooling technique called fusion draw. Unfortunately, it had only one plant capable of the process. I won't spoil anything by saying it eventually worked out.
That's the end of the story, which I encourage you to read in full. Each new iteration of Gorilla Glass presents its own challenges. It's a fascinating story about a component of our iPhones we look at every day.