The iPod: the device that changed the music world forever

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Fifteen years ago a somewhat unassuming white gadget was launched that would go on to change the world of music forever.

On October 23 2001, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod, a digital music player that would change the way people bought and listened to music.

The first generation iPod came with a 5GB hard drive and a physically rotating wheel that allowed you to scroll through 1,000s of songs.

The release of the iPod was ultimately the death of the CD, cassette tapes and Mini Discs (remember them?)

The second generation iPod which was launched a year later came with a touch control wheel and support for Windows.

Less than two years after its launch, Apple revealed it had sold one million iPods worldwide and by the end of 2004, more than 10 million units had been sold.

Over the next decade the popularity of the iPod continued to soar and by the end of 2010 Apple had sold 275 million units.

While the iPod certainly wasn’t the first MP3 player, its name went onto pretty much become the generic term for digital music players, and was the first example of Apple taking an existing device and turning it into a real game changer.

Today there are three versions of the iPod, the ultra mini iPod Shuffle, the iPod Nano and the touch screen iPod Touch.

Here’s a brief look at some of the most memorable iPods:

First generation iPod (2001)

iPod first generation

The original iPod had a wheel that you would actually have to turn to scroll through music and four buttons that made a rather nice and satisfying click sound when they were pressed.

It could also only be used on an iMac or MacBook. While it received praised for its design, many failed to see the potential and the the iPod and it was actually widely criticised by many over its small storage space, which was quarter of the storage offered by some its rivals.

Third generation iPod (2003)

iPod 3rd generation

While the second generation iPod made the device compatible with Windows via the messy Musicmatch software, the third generation iPod also saw iTunes become available on Microsoft’s operating system for the first time – and this really was a game changer both for users and Apple.

The third generation iPod felt like something truly futuristic in both terms of its design and features.

Its five minutes of skip protection seemed incredible at the time, especially to anyone who had been using CD Walkmans.

iPod Mini (2004)

iPod Mini

Building on the success of the iPod Classic, the iPod Nano looked absolutely stunning when it was released and even to today remains on the best examples of Apple’s prowess when it comes to design. Available in an choice of bright colours with a smooth anodized aluminium finish which housed its clever click wheel.

Sadly the iPod Mini only last two years before Apple replaced it with the even smaller iPod Nano.

iPod video (2005)

iPod video

While the smaller iPods – the iPod Mini and later the Nano – had surged ahead in popularity of the large iPod, the fifth generation iPod had a slightly smaller new design and incorporated the click wheel from the Mini.

It also added a colour screen for the first time which meant the iPod could now be used not only to watch music videos but also your favourite movie or episodes of your favourite TV shows on the move.

iPod Classic (2007)

iPod classic

Six years after its launch, the original iPod had evolved into the iPod Classic which was launched with a sleak new design.

The iPod Classic only received small incremental updates from here on in but my 2009 still boasted a whopping 160GB of storage space. The device still remained popular but had now started to look a little dated as touchscreen devices started to become more popular.

Related: It’s been 15 years since the iPod launched

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