Tony Fadell Reflects on Creating the iPod Ahead of Device's 20th Anniversary

One day ahead of the 20th anniversary of Steve Jobs unveiling the original iPod on October 23, 2001, Apple's former senior vice president of the iPod team Tony Fadell has reflected on his role in creating the device in an interview with CNET's Roger Cheng.

2001 ipod
Fadell said that Apple was on a mission to launch the iPod before Christmas 2001. Impressively, he said that he "really got started" with developing the device in May 2001, just five months before it was introduced by Jobs. "It was nonstop, seven days a week," he said.

When Jobs unveiled the iPod at a small press event at its former Infinite Loop headquarters, the device was not fully finished, according to Fadell. Nevertheless, he said Jobs handed out this early version of the device to the media in attendance, along with a collection of 20 CDs containing the music that had been pre-loaded onto the device.

Fadell added that by 2005, Apple was starting to look into the cell phone market. As he has shared in previous interviews over the years, Fadell said his team toyed with prototypes of a full-screen iPod with a virtual click wheel, adding that the Mac team had separately designed a "massive capacitive touchscreen the size of a pingpong table." Apple ultimately launched the iPhone with a multi-touch display in 2007.

The full interview is a worthwhile read over at CNET for those interested in the days leading up to the original iPod's launch two decades ago.

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Top Rated Comments

Daws Avatar
34 months ago
In 20 years, I can’t wait for the interview with the developer of the Polishing Cloth.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HobeSoundDarryl Avatar
34 months ago
LOVED this device! It single handedly brought me to the Mac/Apple... a halo effect for sure.

Now, years later, I'm near Apple-everything, make a great living on Macs and I have to give much of the credit to this catalyst product that first opened that door.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
emulator Avatar
34 months ago

I say it again, I would love something just like this--same form and size an all. Just change the port to USB-C, the HD to a huge SSD, add Bluetooth for Airpods, and wifi for syncing with iTunes.

I'd give up my four classic iPods (two that function and two that are dead) for it in a heartbeat.
Very much a missed opportunity not to release something like that as a limited anniversary edition. Just for the fun factor, a nice collector's item.

But the Tim Apple era won't be remembered for fun at all.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
34 months ago

A little bit of essential history was left out; Apple collaborating with Motorola on the razr.
Wasn't it the Rokr?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
satchmo Avatar
34 months ago
This iconic design is right up there with the original 128K Macintosh, G4 Cube and G4 iMac.

BTW, I think 2000-2002 was Apple's peak in product design.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tonywalker23 Avatar
34 months ago
I say it again, I would love something just like this--same form and size an all. Just change the port to USB-C, the HD to a huge SSD, add Bluetooth for Airpods, and wifi for syncing with iTunes.

I'd give up my four classic iPods (two that function and two that are dead) for it in a heartbeat.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)