On October 23rd, 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the iPod at a special event, showing off a design destined to become iconic. Ten years later, the brand is as strong as ever, though sadly, we have lost its inventor.

iPod   is arguably the most important in Apple’s history. If the iPod failed, Apple would have remained a boutique computer maker prized by designers and schools but able to be safely ignored by the tech world at large.  Instead, the iPod proved to be a powerful wedge, the de facto standard for listening to music for many years. How did the iPod’s original design morph over time? Let’s take a small trip through the evolution of the device that’s arguably the most important in the Apple’s history.

The one that started it all…

The first iPod was a boxy, white plastic-and-stainless steel gadget  about the size of a deck of cards  with a small, black-and-white screen and a FireWire port on top. And it wasn’t cheap: $399 for 5 GB of capacity. But its spinning wheel interface was new and fun, and helped the iPod become a huge hit. Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod at a press conference in Cupertino, Calif., with the slogan, “1,000 songs in your pocket.” (And a surprising 20 minutes of anti-skip technology.) The gadget launched with a goofy commercial . Over time, the original iPod’s form morphed a bit. The third-generation iPod showed some of the most significant changes, with rearranged controls and touch-based buttons that lit up when they detected finger presses. The fourth-generation iPod was the first to come with a color screen and support to show off photographs transferred from the computer, and the fifth-generation iPod was the first to support video.

Then came the iPOD mini

Why use a full-sized iPod when you could use a miniature version of it? Apple introduced the iPod mini in 2004, almost three years after the original iPod made its debut. The iPod mini’s aesthetic design mimicked that of the original iPod in almost every way; the device was rectangular and contained a small hard drive, and sported a round navigation wheel with an LCD screen above it to display playlists and other info. The iPod mini came in five colors — silver, gold, pink, blue, or green anodized aluminum — which was hugely important in making the devices fashionable



Who says an iPod needs a screen? Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod shuffle at Macworld, offering an MP3 player that’s “smaller and lighter than a pack of gum and costs less than $100.” Apple’s slogans included “Life is random,” celebrating that you ideally wouldn’t even want to control which song you heard next when you were exercising



Entering the Ipod nano era

Apple’s iPod line continues to get thinner, and the company’s marketing department keeps coming up with new objects to compare iPods to. This time, it’s “thinner than a standard #2 pencil.” But this time, there was no hard drive—the entire thing was based on flash storage, making the device the thinnest iPod ever. The iPod nano eventually adopted colors like the iPod mini, once again making it wildly popular among adults and children like. There was even one year when the iPod nano got fat, but then   thinned down again and gained a much bigger screen the following year. When Apple introduced the sixth-generation iPod nano in 2010, though, the company ended up ditching manual controls altogether and made the device all (touch)screen, all the time, much like a shrunken-down version of the iPod touch

Sixth generarion iPOD nano

Ipod video

After previously snoring at portable video players, Steve Jobs finally announced one of his own. The video iPod could hold up to 150 hours of video — conveniently available from the iTunes store — and had a gorgeous, high-resolution display.

But Apple conveniently left the video-playback battery life off its press release, because it was terrible — a two-hour movie was a stretch.

iPOD touch

The highly anticipated iPod Touch brought all the features of the iPhone without the phone and AT&T plans. It was the first ever iPod with Wi-Fi capability, with a multi-touch screen, access to iTunes store, Safari browser, accelerometer (from iPhone) and dedicated YouTube application. It was originally released in two version, a 8GB and 16GB version, with a 32GB version added the following year. The only downside to the Touch was a fee of $9.99 for major OS upgrades, while iPhone users were able to   get it for free.
The second generation Touch offered a slimmer body with tapered chrome back, iPhone OS 2.0, App Store access, bluetooth support (not yet active till OS 3.0) and built-in speakers. It also came with Nike+ functionality built in.

Ipod shuffle no buttons

In early 2009, when Steve Jobs was away on medical leave, Apple announced a new iPod shuffle even smaller than previous ones.

This new shuffle was extra controversial, however, because it shipped without play/pause/rewind/fast forward buttons. Instead, users are required to use the controls on Apple’s iPod earbuds. Which means they need to use Apple earbuds. Steve Jobs returned to the stage after his medical leave, updating the iPod line again. The iPod nano did receive a video camera, as rumored, but the iPod touch did not — a disappointment. Instead, would-be iPod touch buyers will have to settle for price cuts and a faster set of guts inside the gadget.


Posted by

Sumanth (MGIT ECE 2nd year)

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