More history of the 1G iPod, courtesy Wired

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.
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