More history of the 1G iPod, courtesy Wired

Updated

Wired’s Leander Kahney has shed additional light on the making of Apple’s first iPod in an interview with Ben Knauss, formerly of PortalPlayer, co-developer of the iPod hardware. Highlights include

  • Tony Fadell approached Apple with the business idea of a music player coupled with a music download service. Several companies turned Fadell down, but Apple said yes, and gave him a 30-person team.
  • When Apple signed on, PortalPlayer dropped work for as many as 12 customers, including IBM, which had planned “a small, black MP3 player” with a “unique circular screen and wireless Bluetooth headphones” plus miniature IBM hard drives.
  • Knauss claims 280 PortalPlayer employees worked for 8 months on the iPod design to incorporate Apple-requested features, many from Steve Jobs himself, including AAC, an equalizer, Audible audio book support, faster menus, louder output (“Jobs is partly deaf”) and better audio quality.
  • Apple used a collection of confusing prototypes “to make sure it wasn’t predictable what the end design was.”
  • The iPod project almost died when initial battery life proved out at 3 hours, even when powered down. But when the problem was fixed, Apple bought a majority stake in PortalPlayer.
Photo of author

Dennis Lloyd

I'm a passionate, long-time lover of Apple products, and was a civil draftsman and graphic designer before creating the iLounge web site. My prior projects include work for The Los Angeles Times' LATimes.com, and the company Creative Domain, where I developed websites for clients including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Fox Studios, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers. As the Publisher of iLounge, I direct the site's community forums, photo galleries, iPod User Group, and general business affairs, which have grown under my watch to over sixteen million page views every month. I'm happily married with one daughter, one dog (Rocket the Wonderdog), one cat (Ferris), many iPods, iPhones, iPads, and two turntables.