A Visual History of the Apple iPodJune 18, 2018
Not so long ago, we listened to music on the go with a Walkman or portable CD player. Inevitably, you’d have to untangle the magnetically coated tape from the grasps of your heavy Walkman or restart your CD after going over a major bump in the road while riding in the backseat of your parents’ car. Now, with Apple updating its iPod touch line to bring it more in line with its flagship smartphone, it’s hard to believe what we put up with before it arrived.
The iPod wasn’t exactly the first of its kind; there were six MP3 players on the market when Apple’s player debuted. But in the first iPod promotional video, DJ and musician Moby said he owned three and couldn’t figure out how to use any of them. With the iPod, “I held it, and 45 seconds later, I knew how to use it,” Moby said.
The iPod may have seemed revolutionary, but it got its start back in 1979. British inventor Kane Kramer created the first digital audio player, called the IXI, which was able to play about one song. The prototype was shelved when Kramer couldn’t market it successfully, and his patent expired in 1988. Kane did get credit, though, when Apple ran up against patent issues in 2007 and brought him in to testify.
“To be honest, I was just so pleased that finally something that I had done which has been a huge success and changed the music industry was being acknowledged,” Kramer told The Daily Mail. “I was really quite emotional about it all.” But even with his place secured in digital music history, Kramer couldn’t bring himself to buy an iPod.
Millions have forked over their hard-earned money for an iPod, though. The rise of the iPhone, with its built-in Music app, has cannibalized iPod in recent years, but as PCMag’s Sascha Segan pointed out, there is still a need for these devices.
In this story, we reflect on the iPod through the years, along with that year’s chart-topping songs, courtesy of Billboard. Let’s start the countdown.
This story was originally published on Oct. 10, 2012.