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The iPod is 10 Years Old Today

Posted by J Powers at 9:53 AM on October 23, 2011
First Generation iPod

First Generation iPod

As I reported on my Day in Tech History show, the iPod was introduced on this day in 2001. Steve Jobs got up on stage and talked about a change. They wanted to get into the digital music revolution, which was not doing too well. Jobs stated that Sony and Sonic Blue were trying their hands at this genre, but there was no real market leader.

Then Apple became that market leader.

The “First Generation iPod” came in models of 5 GB and 6 GB starting at $399. At the standard MP3 rate of 128 kbps, you could put 1000 songs on the device (as Steve put it – “That is some people’s whole music library”). The iPod connected to iTunes (which was a program you could only get on the Mac at the time) and used the Firewire port for connection.

Jobs also called the device the “Ultra-portable”, whereas the (then) iBook was the mini-portable. The first iPod was the size of a deck of cards, so you could easily put it in your pocket.  With the 100 hour battery life, you could listen to music hours on end.

How iPod Changed the Mobile Landscape

Even though Kramer created the first one, Steve Jobs and Apple changed the landscape. It was amazing how this little device shaped the 21st century. Records, cassettes, 8-tracks and CDs would soon start to give way to the digital download.

Legal Issues with Apple

The company was in battle from three main angles – One, for download piracy issues and the other from Apple records (the Beatles record label). Apple records made an arrangement with Apple computers that since they didn’t do the same thing, Apple records would not go after them. However, that all changed when the iPod came out. Eventually they settled, and in 2010, the Beatles finally appeared in the iTunes store.

The third was for the iPod itself. The idea actually was first created in 1979. British inventor Kane Kramer put together the first digital audio player, which he called the IXI. The device could only play one song. He patented the idea, but did not renew in 1998. However, Kramer did eventually get credit for his creation.

So here we are, ten years later. This version of the iPod has made it’s way as the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle, iPhone and iPad have joined in this “Digital music revolution”. You can still get what is now called iPod Classic with 35x more storage and a color screen for $249. But it really was on October 23, 2001 that Steve Jobs turned this market upside-down.