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16 Years Ago Today, Apple Unveiled the Original iPod

Today marks the 16th anniversary of the debut of the first iPod, which was introduced by Apple on October 23, 2001. Then Apple CEO Steve Jobs stood on stage at the Apple Town Hall in Cupertino and showed off a device that could fit in a pocket but hold an entire music library.

The first-generation iPod, which Apple advertised with the tagline "1,000 songs in your pocket," was a rectangle-shaped device with a 5GB 1.8-inch hard drive capable of holding 1,000 songs.

It featured a black and white LCD and the first click wheel, a mechanical scrolling interface that let users quickly and conveniently scroll through long lists of music. The click wheel also included easy access buttons for playing, pausing, rewinding, and fast forwarding through music content. The first iPod's battery lasted for up to 10 hours before needing to be recharged, and the device was priced at $399.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he called it a quantum leap forward and outlined three major breakthroughs: ultra-portability, Apple's legendary ease of use, and auto-sync with iTunes.

iPod is an MP3 music player, has CD quality music, and it plays all of the popular formats of open music. The biggest thing about iPod is that it holds a thousand songs. Now this is a quantum leap because for most people, it's their entire music library. This is huge. How many times have you gone on the road with a CD player and said 'Oh God, I didn't bring the CD I wanted to listen to.' To have your whole music library with you at all times is a quantum leap in listening to music. The coolest thing about iPod is that your whole music library fits right in your pocket. Never before possible.
New versions of the iPod were released on a yearly basis following the launch of the original device, and other notable launches included the iPod Photo in 2004, which had the first color display, the smaller iPod mini in 2004, the tiny iPod nano in 2005, the even smaller iPod Shuffle, also in 2005, and the first iPod touch, which came out in 2007 following the launch of the iPhone.

An early version of the iPod Nano

Today, the iPhone, unveiled six years after the iPod, has largely replaced Apple's original music device. The iPhone does everything the iPod did and more, and has served as an iPod replacement since its debut.

Over the course of the last 16 years, Apple has stayed at the forefront of music technology with the debut of Apple Music, a streaming music service that now has more than 30 million paid subscribers.

Apple retired the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle in July of 2017, and now the iPod touch is the sole remaining iPod the company has for sale. The iPod touch was last updated in July of 2015 and it is not clear if the product will see additional updates in the future.

The iPod touch is available in 32GB and 128GB capacities for $199 and $299, respectively.

Related Roundup: iPod touch
Buyer's Guide: iPod Touch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

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26 months ago
... and MacRumors forum was all “give us more powerful Macs and don’t waste time with toys”. Prescient.
Rating: 30 Votes
26 months ago
The forum replies to the article are good to read now:
Rating: 27 Votes
26 months ago

The forum replies to the article are good to read now:

That will always, always be my favorite MR thread. Especially gems like: Apple's New Thing (iPod) ('')

This isn't revoltionary!
I still can't believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently!
Why oh why would they do this?! It's so wrong! It's so stupid!

The particular post above has been repeated in some form or fashion following every Apple product launch since.
Rating: 21 Votes
26 months ago
Still miss my iPod 3rd Gen. I think it still functions but I haven't used it in years.

Rating: 10 Votes
26 months ago

The forum replies to the article are good to read now:

Oh my goodness, those comments are carbon copies of the ignorant tripe we read in the comment sections today about the new iPhones. Nothing has changed in 16 years. It makers feel good to know that 16 years of ragging on Apple about everything hasn’t stopped the company from succeeding and prospering.
Rating: 9 Votes
26 months ago
I hate to nick pick, but that picture of the nano is of the penultimate modal they made, not an early version ;)
Rating: 7 Votes
26 months ago
And this from comment #121 in that thread.

"It's a shame that Apple doesn't have market awareness and released that yet again, has "missed the boat" before spending R&D, time and money on creating this now-novel audio device. You’d think they would’ve learnt from omitting CDRW drives from their machines a few years ago."

Oh my, that one could have been posted today for all we know, not 16 years ago.
Rating: 4 Votes
26 months ago
Found a photo of my original iPod w/ my iBook:

Very blurry photo of my friend Matt and I with our iPods in 2004. I had every iPod Apple ever made, the 3rd Generation w/ light up red buttons being my favorite. I hated having to remove the scroll wheel (back when it moved) to clean gunk from under it.

I still blog about technology but at the time, we were reviewing 40 different iPod cases from 30 companies. I was 17 when this photo was taken.

Matt & I at MWSF 2005:

and here's a retro one for you...taking a photo of an iPod w/ an old school camera. hah. Camera phones were just coming available then:

Actually, the only iPods I never owned was the HP iPod and the U2 one but I owned every major full size iPod, nano, mini and shuffle. Really loved these things.

Still use my iPod Classic every day.
Rating: 4 Votes
26 months ago

... and MacRumors forum was all “give us more powerful Macs and don’t waste time with toys”. Prescient.

...well, in those days Mac rumours meant Mac rumors, and it was quite true that the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player ('') or even the first with a ~5GB hard drive ('') for songs. The iPod's real advantage - which wasn't initially apparent - was its ease-of-use and well-designed UI when compared with the competition.

Anyway, the iPod didn't really take off until the launch of the iTunes music store and a PC-compatible USB version a few years later.

However, just because everybody was wrong about the iPod then, doesn't necessarily mean that everybody is wrong about watches and cars...

great oaks from little apples grow

...well, the iPod had an ARM chip and that was originally designed by Acorn, so...
Rating: 4 Votes
26 months ago

I hate to nick pick, but that picture of the nano is of the penultimate modal they made, not an early version ;)

I also hate to nit pick but the first generation iPod did not have a Click Wheel. The first generation iPod has a scroll wheel which was mechanical (meaning it actually spun) and did not allow the user to click with it. All of the buttons (as can be seen in the picture) were situated around the scroll wheel. The click wheel was not available until the iPod Mini was released. Subsequent versions of the regular iPod changed from the mechanical scroll wheel to a non mechanical touch sensitive scroll wheel with the touch sensitive buttons situated along the top. Eventually the click wheel made it's way into the regular iPod, or iPod Classic style and eventually went out with the last iPod Classic.
Rating: 4 Votes

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