Leander Kahney

Why the iPod was the signature music device of its era

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Cover of the Cult of iPod book
The cover of The Cult of iPod, my book that documented the gadget's cultural impact.
Photo: Leander Kahney/No Starch Press

The following is from the introduction to The Cult of iPod, my 2005 book about the massive impact of the tiny music player. Introduced in 2001, the iPod quickly became one of the most important gadgets of all time. It transformed Apple and it brought a lot of joy into people’s lives. All told, Apple sold about 400 million iPods before officially pulling the plug on the device Tuesday.

I hope this intro captures why I loved the iPod, as did millions of other people.

Excerpt from The Cult of iPod

Fire, the wheel, and the iPod. In the history of invention, gadgets don’t come more iconic than Apple’s digital music player. The iPod is to the 21st century what the big band was to the ’20s, the radio to the ’40s, or the juke-box to the ’50s — the signature technology that defines the musical culture of the era. And what a marvelous technology the iPod is. Inside Apple’s little white box is magic, pure magic, in the guise of music.

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An illustrated history of the iPod and its massive impact [Updated]

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Steve Jobs on the cover of NewsWeek
Steve Jobs and the iPod make the cover of NewsWeek.
Photo: NewsWeek

Editor’s note: We originally published this illustrated history of the iPod to celebrate the device’s 10th anniversary on Oct. 22, 2011 (and updated it a decade later). We republished it on May 10, 2022, when Apple finally pulled the plug on the iPod.

The iPod grew out of Steve Jobs’ digital hub strategy. Life was going digital. People were plugging all kinds of devices into their computers: digital cameras, camcorders, MP3 players.

The computer was the central device, the “digital hub,” that could be used to edit photos and movies or manage a large music library. Jobs tasked Apple’s programmers with making software for editing photos, movies and managing digital music. While they were doing this, they discovered that all the early MP3 players were horrible. Jobs asked his top hardware guy, Jon Rubinstein, to see if Apple could do better.

Tame cord spaghetti with Function 101’s Cable Blocks [Review]

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Function 101 Cable Blocks cord management
Function 101's rubbery magnetic Cable Blocks are my favorite cord management system.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Almost every day, our robot vacuum tangles itself in charging cables, which the kids toss cavalierly across the floor. Snaking from behind the couch, the cords wait like baited fishing lines to ensnare our unsuspecting Roomba.

Luckily, we just got some Cable Blocks from Function 101. Cable Blocks are rubbery little magnetic blocks that sit on your desk or nightstand and hold cables out of the way.

It’s a simple and clever design. Here’s why Cable Blocks are my favorite cable-management system.

Tim Cook wears Ukrainian colors during Peek Performance event

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Tim Cook in Ukrainian colors during the Peek Performance event
Tim Cook wears the colors of the Ukrainian national flag during the Peek Performance event.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn’t often wear colorful Apple watch bands, but he made an exception during Apple’s Peek Performance event on Tuesday.

Cook emceed the event wearing an eye-catching yellow Sport band. Paired with his blue sweater, Cook seemed to be making a subtle gesture of support for the embattled country (yellow and blue are the colors of the Ukrainian national flag).

Ukrainian devs work in bathtubs as Russian bombs and missiles fly

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MacPaw's Julia Petryk works in her bathtub, the safest place in her Kyiv apartment as Russian bombs and missiles fall.
MacPaw's Julia Petryk works in her bathtub, the safest place in her Kyiv apartment during the Russian bombardment of Ukraine.
Photo: Julia Petryk/MacPaw

Between air raids and missile strikes, Julia Petryk works in her bathtub in Ukraine. It’s the safest place in her Kyiv apartment.

“The last interview I gave for media was in the bathtub,” she told Cult of Mac in an email. It’s “the safest place in the apartment during bombardment.”

Grid Studio’s framed iPhone is a teardown in a box [Review]

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Framed original iPhone from Grid Studio
Score up to 20% off on Grid Studio frames for Earth Day
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

I have two original iPhones in my possession. One sits in a junk drawer, untouched and unloved for many years.

The other has been carefully disassembled and the parts arranged in a handsome black frame that hangs on my office wall. Made by Grid Studio, the Grid 1 is my own personal iPhone teardown in a box.

Get the fantastic Cult of Mac, 2nd Edition book at more than 70% off

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The Cult of Mac 2E
This deluxe chronicle of Apple fandom is beautifully designed.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

If you’re looking for a holiday gift for an Apple fan, consider The Cult of Mac, 2nd Edition. This great-looking coffee table book about the Apple community is on sale right now for just $9.99 — a whopping 71% off.

Co-written by David Pierini and yours truly, the gorgeously designed, full-color book details many aspects of the Apple fan universe.

Hands-on: AirPods 3 sound great thanks to lots of trickle-down tech [Review]

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AirPods 3 on messy desk
Everything about AirPods 3 is better.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The new AirPods 3 are marvelous little earbuds. They sound fantastic, are dead easy to set up and use, and the wireless charging case is a godsend.

Compared to their predecessors, Apple greatly improved just about everything — and they are well worth their $179 price tag.

Apple unveils next-gen Apple Silicon: M1 Pro and M1 Max

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M1 Max chip
Apple's M1 Max is the biggest Apple has made with 57 billion transistors.
Photo: Apple

Apple Unleashed event bug At Apple’s “Unleashed” event Monday, the company unveiled a pair of new “pro” Apple Silicon chips: the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors.

The two new chips were described by Apple executives as “breakthrough” and “groundbreaking.” The M1 Max “is by far the most powerful chip we’ve ever built,” said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, during the “Unleashed” presentation.

At first glance, they appear to be a pair of wicked-fast but battery-sipping beasts that blow Intel out of the water.