| Cult of Mac

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.

Running classic Cinema Displays with newer Macs [Setups]

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Which makes you swoon more, the 30-inch Cinema Displays or the Yamaha powered speakers?
Which makes you swoon more, the 30-inch Cinema Displays or the mounted Yamaha powered speakers with the Mackie Big Knob controller?
Photo: gagigu1@Reddit.com

There’s something special about old Apple gear. Maybe that’s why it comes up fairly frequently in Cult of Mac‘s Setups coverage. One of the most-beloved classics in Apple’s storied history of beloved products is the Cinema Display. Today’s featured setup sports not one but two 30-inch Cinema Displays, the big stunners Steve Jobs introduced to an absolutely dazzled Worldwide Developers Conference audience in 2004.

So, naturally, questions came up about how to best use them with a newer Mac.

iPod video launched just in time to save The Office

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iPod video launched just in time to save ‘The Office’
The iPod classic 5th Generation played a large role in the keeping The Office off the rubbish heap.
Photo: Cult of Mac

An accidental collaboration with Apple saved NBC sitcom The Office from cancellation during its second season.

A fifth-generation iPod took a starring role in an episode of the comedy series. Then, the unlikely cameo spurred sales of reruns of the show on iTunes. And the rest is history.

Hacked iPod Classic streams Spotify like a champ

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Spotify iPod Classic 1
This iPod Classic isn't so classic any more.
Photo: Guy Dupont

A YouTuber hacked a 17-year-old iPod Classic to let it stream Spotify tracks, successfully bringing a relic from the MP3 days into the modern era.

To be clear, this isn’t just a software hack. Guy Dupont pretty much gutted the vintage Apple music player. He added components like a Raspberry Pi Zero W board, a new LCD color display, a haptic motor, and a 1,000 mAh rechargeable battery.

Retro app concept transforms iPhone into an iPod Classic

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Retro app concept transforms iPhone into an iPod Classic
Remember when you could only hold 1,000 songs in your pocket?
Screenshot: Elvin Hu

The iPod’s click wheel was once one of the most iconic UI elements in consumer electronics. Today, it’s gone to the great user interface retirement home in the sky. Or has it? A new app suggests maybe not.

An iOS developer has unveiled a nifty app concept which aims to transform your iPhone into an iPod Classic by incorporating a virtual click wheel. Check it out.

1TB iPod Classic is a music junkie’s dream

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1TB iPod
Remy Sternbach wants you to have 50,000 songs in your pocket
Photo: Remy Sternbach

The iPod was an instant classic — killed off in an instant by the iPhone.

But the iPod has a Dr. Frankenstein in Remy Sternbach. The San Diego tech repairman is determined to bring two to life each week with shiny new bodies, solid state drives, new high-capacity batteries and a full terabyte of storage.

What Sternbach has discovered is the obsolete hardware has an enduring cool.

“I know this is a niche market, but there are people who really like the iPod and like Apple nostalgia,” Sternbach told Cult of Mac. “We also get a lot of audiophiles and people who travel a lot to places with patchy cell service. They want their music.”

Brilliant Pod Case concept turns Apple Watch into iPod

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Podcase
This needs to be a thing.
Photo: Joyce Kang

iPod lovers have been waiting years for Apple to resurrect its portable music player, but a brilliant new concept case could give us the next best thing.

Designer Joyce Kang created a brilliant mockup of a case for Apple Watch that transforms it into a music player reminiscent of the original iPod. The tiny case even comes with a working click wheel — and still gives you access to Apple Watch’s best features!

The value of old iPods could be music to your ears

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Tony Hawk, Madonna and No Doubt are just a few of the names whose signatures graced Special Edition models of the iPod Classic.
Tony Hawk, Madonna and No Doubt are just a few of the names whose signatures graced Special Edition models of the iPod Classic.
Photo: Ivan Chernov

Cult of Mac 2.0 bug Nick Wellings listens to music on his iPhone, preferring not to disturb any one of his 108 iPods.

He figures his collection would hold 231,000 songs, but only one has ever been touched or seen the light of day. They remain factory-sealed in their boxes.

The iPod’s status as an icon was brief but seismic, a sleek and at-times-colorful trigger of upheaval to the music industry in the middle of the century’s first decade. Soon the iPhone, which grew more powerful with each generation, relegated the iPod to junk drawers, closets and boxes, next to that cassette-tape-playing Sony Walkman.

Apple collectibles are a seller’s market

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Bids for this Apple I started at $370,000.
Bids for this Apple I started at $370,000.
Photo: Christie's

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugStarting a collection of Apple’s past is relatively easy and often affordable. But once you get started and a pricey, rare object presents itself, will you be able to control yourself?

Here’s a list that will test whether you have the fever and an intense desire to hold personal computing history in your hands. It may also test your fiscal fitness.