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iPod announced 10 years ago today

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Sunday, October 23, 2011
News Categories: Apple, iPod

Ten years ago today, Apple announced the original iPod, an early step in the computer maker’s evolution into a consumer electronics giant. Designed solely to store and play music, the first iPod was distinguished by its unusually small size for a then-considerable 5 Gigabytes of storage space, enough to hold roughly 1,000 songs. With a clear and white plastic face and a mirror-polished stainless steel back, the iPod used a physically moving Scroll Wheel and four physical buttons to navigate black text menus on a white backlit screen.

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At the time of its introduction, the original $399 iPod was embraced by some Apple Macintosh computer fans, but derided by others—and much of the existing PC marketplace—as overpriced and lacking in features. iLounge’s founder Dennis Lloyd immediately fell in love with the minimalist design and created this site to gather information about it, launching around the iPod’s November 10, 2001 release date. By the end of its first year, only 125,000 iPods had been sold, but the numbers began to climb the next year as PC-compatible iPods were released, and then jumped considerably in 2003 with the introduction of more affordable, USB-compatible models with Dock Connectors. The iPod family continued to grow in popularity and market dominance as Apple added color screens with support for photos, videos, games, and apps, combined with lowered prices, and the evolution of the original Scroll Wheel into various types of touch interfaces.

This video shows the unveiling of the iPod at Apple’s headquarters on October 23, 2001. No one, including then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs, had any idea just how successful the iPod would eventually become. As of today, over 300 million iPods have been sold. The DNA of the iPod resulted in the iPhone, Apple TV, and iPad, while influencing the design of Apple’s Mac hardware and software. Elegance and simplicity were taken to new levels in the Apple products that followed the original iPod, leading to a widespread perception that Apple’s offerings were uniquely capable of catering to users of any age and skill level. The iPod’s “halo effect” led Apple to change its name from Apple Computer to Apple Inc., reflecting its shift into consumer electronics, and eventually to Apple’s valuation as one of the largest companies in the world. Yet the iPod family has recently received comparatively modest attention from Apple as the iPhone, iPad, and Mac have continued to surge in sales; even today’s anniversary has proceeded without a mention on the forward-looking company’s web site.

If you’re reading this or listening to something on an Apple device right now, there’s a pretty good chance that the iPod’s success is at least partially responsible for that. And we wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for the little music player that could. Happy 10th anniversary, iPod!

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Comments

1

“At the time of its introduction, the original $399 iPod was embraced by some Apple Macintosh computer fans…”

It was definitely embraced by me! I ordered mine shortly after it was available. I remember receiving it around the 1st of December of 2001. From the origami box to the unit itself, everything about the iPod experience oozed quality and a genuine affection for the product. It was quite obvious from the very beginning that this was a something that Apple was very proud of.

Posted by Michael Smith on October 23, 2011 at 1:14 PM (PDT)

2

The iPod was revealed 10 years ago? Wow. It still feels so new. And yet, in a way, it’s like it was always here. I can barely remember my listening life before it - portable CD players? Walkmen? They’re so long ago. And yet, yes, the iPod still feels new. Still has that shine.

Posted by BeefJerky on October 23, 2011 at 2:02 PM (PDT)

3

Whatever criticisms I have for Apple, Jobs, etc., there is no denying that no technological device since the personal computer itself has had more influence on my life these past years.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on October 23, 2011 at 2:52 PM (PDT)

4

I just wish Apple wont forget the classic like they are doing it now, they owe a lot to the Ipod, wish they would update it someday, i still use my classic Happy 10th birthday Ipod

Posted by superbientotal on October 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM (PDT)

5

I still remember coming here for iPod information back when iLounge was iPodLounge. smile

Posted by SojIrOu on October 23, 2011 at 8:31 PM (PDT)

6

My first iPod was the 2nd gen Mini. It was stylish and simple but didn’t hold a candle feature-wise to other HDD players from Rio or Creative. After my Rio Karma froze and left me hanging (a regular occurrence), I went all-in with Apple and haven’t looked back. Though I have to say I’m disappointed that after 10 years the things still don’t have graphic EQ.

Posted by Paul on October 24, 2011 at 3:13 AM (PDT)

7

@ #6: You know, I was wondering about this too.  A graphical equalizer would be a nice feature.  But, then it might be a battery issue and do we really need it.

I got on the Apple train late, when they introduced the iNano,.... Since then I’m all apple :D

Posted by Dennis on October 24, 2011 at 5:54 AM (PDT)

8

When the iPod came out, I was enthralled, but didn’t own a Mac. I sat there wallowing in envy on the school bus in high school when my Mac-loving music friend got one for Christmas and showed it off in January. Then the iPod 2G came out in July 2002, and there was a Windows model… I begged/pleaded/did many chores for five months, and got one for Christmas. I have owned many more iPods since that “iPod with touch wheel” model, but it still works, and I continue to use it - with its 10 GB of storage - on a regular basis.

And like Michael, I remember the thrill of opening up that origami packaging, and seeing the iPod nestled inside (along with a power adapter, carrying case, and in-line remote… remember the days when we used to get all sorts of accessories included with the iPods?!).

Posted by Wednesday on October 24, 2011 at 10:38 PM (PDT)

9

still playing! happy birthday smile

Posted by superbonz on October 25, 2011 at 8:18 PM (PDT)

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