History of the iPod

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History of the iPod

The comfort of carrying your music collection in your pocket is a treat for music fans! This article presents some interesting information about the iPod, that is still believed to be in its infancy, as the best brains in Apple brainstorm to innovate new designs…

“The coolest thing about the iPod is that your whole music library fits in your pocket.” ~ Steve Jobs, Co-founder and CEO, Apple.

That was what Steve Jobs said at Apple’s Cupertino campus on 23 October 2001, when the world witnessed the arrival of the iPod, in a most simple manner and in front of just a few journalists. While critics were skeptical about Apple’s new venture, Steve Jobs was, as usual, filled with supreme confidence about his new gadget! For he knew that he had captured an idea in his iPods that the layman always had in mind; to carry their musical library while they were on their way to work, traveling, or while studying. This simple concept was what made Apple iPods a huge success, thereby leaving behind many companies. Creative and Diamond Multimedia, who were already in the business of MP3 players, could not capture the market in the way Apple did.

The Beginning of a Legacy

The desire for innovation led Tony Fadell, called the father of the iPod, a former employee in General Magic and Phillips to design a musical player that was better and more portable than MP3 players. Since Tony could not individually carry out his dream project, he approached RealNetworks and Phillips; however, the two companies turned down Tony’s offer. Apple came forward to help Tony and he joined Apple computers in 2001 as an independent contractor who led a team of 30 members, and the rest, as they say, was history.

The iPod Generations

The history of the iPod is divided into various generations, as whenever Apple launched a new generation the market would flood with orders. Here is a tabular presentation of the various generation iPods.

The Generations Released Month Features Remarks
First Generation October 2001 5GB, FireWire, Battery (10 hours audio) After few months the 10GB version was released. These iPods contained a mechanical wheel that could be used for scrolling.
2nd Generation July 2002 10 and 20GB Memory, FireWire, Battery (10 hours audio) The first windows compatible iPod along with the first touch scroll wheel.
3rd Generation April 2003 Available memory capacities were 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40GB, FireWire (USB for syncing only), Battery (8 hours audio) An innovated gadget of the previous version with a touch sensitive button located below the display.
1st Generation Mini January 2004 4GB memory, FireWire, USB, Battery (8 hours audio) A new iPod sensation, small in size and available in five catchy colors, this came with the first click wheel. The buttons were attached to the wheel.
4th Generation July 2004 20 and 40 GB memory, FireWire or USB, Battery (12 hours audio) First iPod to use the click wheel of the Mini.
4th Generation Photo October 2004 Available in 30, 40, 60 GB memories, FireWire/USB, Battery (15 hours audio), Slideshow (5 hours). First ever iPod with colored screen; could display images from PC/MAC.

In case you think this was where the innovation stopped, then you are wrong, for after these the iPod went through some drastic changes that revolutionized the music industry. Further, the major releases after 2004 were targeted for specific market segments.

iPod Shuffle

The iPod shuffle, with its limited memory and no screen, was targeted towards the casual listener, who wanted to listen to music while performing simple tasks like jogging and working out. To this end, it was an inexpensive option that was designed to suit these needs. The shuffle became an instant hit and Apple was forced to go through several generations of this player, as can be seen below.

  • 1st Generation – Launched in January 2005
  • 2nd Generation – Launched in September 2006
  • 3rd Generation – Launched in March 2009

iPod Nano

To create something for people who wanted the portability factor of the Shuffle and a screen to display the song name, Apple came up with the iPod Nano. Just slightly bigger than the Shuffle, but way smaller than the Classic, the Nano, with its crisp color screen and portable size, became an instant hit with consumers the world over. In succeeding generations, memory was increased and the screen was made bigger, with the last generation even getting a camera.

  • 1st Generation – Launched September 2005
  • 2nd Generation – Launched September 2006
  • 3rd Generation – Launched September 2007
  • 4th Generation – Launched September 2008
  • 5th Generation – Launched September 2009

iPod Classic

The iPod Classic was made to cater to the people who wanted to carry all their music with them. As a result, the Classic ended up being among the heaviest iPods, albeit with large memories. Apple managed to put a crisp color display on this model, which came in memories ranging from 20GB to 160 GB. Generation wise, the ability to play videos and an increase in memory were the major changes in this model.

  • 5th Generation – Launched October 2005
  • 6th Generation – Launched September 2007
  • 6th Generation (revised) – Launched September 2008

iPod touch

The latest in the series of iPods, the touch was a high-end all round entertainment device. Similar to the famous iPhone, but without the phone capabilities, the touch remains the flagship model of the iPod. This model too went through several generations, with the most notable change being an increase in the memory.

  • 1st Generation – Launched September 2007
  • 2nd Generation – Launched September 2008
  • 3rd Generation – Launched September 2009

As innovation increased, iPods have become a trend. The iPods today can store data up to 160 GB and are used for wide variety of applications.

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