Fadell had been pitching a hard drive-based player to the likes of Real Networks and Philips - a company at which he'd worked, as its Mobile Computing Group director of engineering - before turning to Apple, where he received a positive welcome from executives looking for ways to drive home the concept of the Mac as a digital content hub, the better to sell more computers to consumers.
Minds behind the iPod: (clockwise from top) Tony Fadell, Jon Rubenstein, Jonathan Ive, Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller
The portable music player was a market in which Apple felt it could make its mark. Other companies were already offering players, but they had yet to take the consumer market by storm. Apple had already acquired SoundJam MP, a digital music management app it would relaunch in January 2001 as iTunes 1.0.
"Why music?" former CEO Steve asked at the iPod launch. "A part of everyone's life (a large target market," said the slide behind him. Somehow, we think the words in parenthesis are the important ones.
"No one has found the recipe yet for digital music," Jobs said, talking about the efforts of companies from Creative to Sony.
Steve Jobs unveils the iPod
The name of the player was subsequently coined, once the device was nearing completion, by freelance copywriter Vinnie - or Tim, according to some write-ups - Chieco.
The first hardware was based around a dual-core ARM-based system-on-a-chip developed by PortalPlayer, which also contributed much of Dulcimer's core OS. Another third-party, Pixo, built the UI component, under Apple supervision. Indeed, Jobs is said to have taken a particular interest in the first iPod's development. But plenty of other senior Apple staffers had their say in the evolution of the device - it was not one man's project.
iTunes 1.0, derived from SoundJam MP and enhance with iPod support with the release of iTunes 2.0
Jonathan Ive would later say the development of the iPod “was about being very focused and not trying to do too much with the device". Complication, he reckons, would have killed it. "The enabling features aren't obvious and evident, because the key was getting rid of stuff."
Apple announced in early October 2001 that it would be hosting a press conference on 23 October to unveil a new product that was "not a Mac".
The iPod UI, implemented by Pixo, steered by Steve Jobs. From the first iPod manual
On the day, the iPod was launched as "1000 songs in your pocket" - amazing, given most other players only had room for a handful unless the tracks were encoded at woefully low bitrates.
Next page: Success in hindsight
I had a Creative DAP Jukebox, still do somewhere in fact, which I thought was brilliant. For the size of a CD player I had a 4GB HDD and an easily navigated music library.
I then went to Australia for a gap year and one day when talking to the bus driver of all people, I spotted this iThingy on his dash so I asked him about it. "WTF is that, it's so small?!" A few months later in the States I bought myself, I believe, a 3rd Gen iPod. I loved it until someone stole it :(
I then got myself a 2nd Gen iPod mini and that was great until it froze on the ski slopes.
Now I've got a Zen and I'd struggle to go back to an iPod now because of the iTunes requirement. My other two I could sync (or at least send tracks to) with a winamp plugin. Not sure you can do that any more?
Great little device and definitely changed the music industry. Shame it came at a cost. The entertainment industry has had to buy various governments to try to ban people from the internet, that's not cool but hardly what the iPod set out to achieve!
2nd Gen ipod still useful
Still have my 2nd Gen iPod from December 2002 - and found an alternative use a couple of days ago. Internal hard disc died on my iMac, so installed Snow Leopard on the iPod via firewire and ran the iMac for a couple of days from there while waiting for a replacement hard disc to arrive. The iMac was surprisingly useful from the external iPod, although the boot time was horrendous.
Used this setup to update an iPod touch to iOS 5 too.
"iPod" => "music"
I know, a bizzare move.... as if they are trying to kill their own brand!
I know it sounds tired, but I think the biggest innovation was the simple, intuitive UI.
People that hated Apple/iPods always pointed out that Archos and other mp3 players could do everything the iPod could, which is absolutely true. Apple instead introduced a small, highly polished (literally and figuratively) player that was beautiful and easy to use–something no competitor could claim at the time. It wasn't the list of features that was new, it was how easy it was to use all of them.
This was the first electronic gadget that I was able to use nearly 100% of the features without referencing the manual. The manual it came with was scant, at best, but that was just the thing–you didn't need it. The only thing I couldn't figure out on my own was how to get the backlight on when it was dark (hold the play button down for 5 seconds or so, then the backlight stays on long enough to enable it in the settings).
Mine still works, though the battery life is not so great and it mostly sits in a drawer. I loved the mechanical wheel, though it was prone to accidental swipes that resulted in high volume music.
Yep - they were incredible portable discs
I remember from the 'making of' movie for LoTR that when Jackson was in London, working with the composer on the scoring, they would transfer the entire movie every day to London, then write it onto an iPod and have it couriered to him.