February 12, 2012: Months after his untimely death, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is honored with a Special Merit Grammy Award in recognition of his contributions to the field of music with the iPod and iTunes Music Store.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, collects the Grammy on behalf of Jobs’ family and “everyone at Apple.”
January 8, 2004: The clumsily named iPod+HP, a Hewlett-Packard-branded iPod, debuts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Shown off by Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the prototype device is blue, the color used for HP’s branding. By the time it arrives on the market later that year, however, the digital music player is the same shade of white as the regular iPod. The device doesn’t hang around for long, either.
Ah, the magic of Christmas. Even a grownup can get deliriously excited about unwrapping a rich haul of computer gear that turns a Charlie Brown Christmas tree of a setup into a powerful workstation that would intimidate Ebeneezer Scrooge.
Today’s user had a decent MacBook Pro and iPad Pro to begin with, but ended up with a proper, highly functional setup. And commenters had further suggestions for additions, too. Hey, the more the merrier!
October 26, 2004: Apple debuts its iPod Photo, a device capable of putting not just 15,000 songs in your pocket, but also 25,000 photographs.
It is the first iPod to offer a color screen and the ability to display digital images and album cover art. The iPod Photo represents a big step forward in the functionality of Apple’s iconic music player.
October 23, 2001: Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the first iPod, a device capable of storing an entire music library in a highly portable package.
The first-generation device boasts a 5GB hard drive capable of putting “1,000 songs in your pocket.” That may not sound too dazzling in a world in which people can stream the massive Apple Music library from their iPhones, but it was a game-changer at the time!
September 5, 2007: Apple introduces its first new iPods after the release of the iPhone. The lineup includes the third-gen iPod nano, the newly renamed iPod Classic and — most significantly — the debut of the iPod touch.
In doing so, Apple sets out to demonstrate that there is still plenty of life left in the iconic portable music player.
July 14, 1995: The MP3 file format receives its official name as the new .bit file extension gets changed to .mp3. The technology allows the compression of a standard CD .wav file to one-tenth its original size, courtesy of some smart algorithms.
The format will revolutionize the music industry — and put Apple on the road to world dominance.
If Apple made a turntable, would it cost $60,000? Almost certainly not, but that’s the lofty price tag on the new 50th anniversary Linn Sondek LP12-50, sketched out by former Apple chief designer Jony Ive and his firm LoveFrom.
It’s his first hardware design project since leaving Apple in 2019. And he did it for free.
May 12, 2005: Longtime Apple frenemy Bill Gates tells a German newspaper that Apple may have hit it big with the iPod, but that its success isn’t going to last forever.
The reason? Mobile phones are going to steal the iPod’s market share. The good news for Gates is that he was right on the money. The bad news for Microsoft is that Apple cannibalized itself by making the iPhone. And Apple’s smartphone became even more successful than the iPod.
Not every computer setup flaunted and much-admired on social media is an Apple silicon powerhouse with an ultra-fast M1 or M2 chip. Today’s featured setup leans on a 6-year-old iMac and a MacBook Air almost twice as old as that.
But with the help of an impressive-yet-affordable audio gear list and a trio of gaming systems, the rig gets the work and play done. And don’t miss the beefed up iPod classic in the mix.
April 9, 2007: Apple sells its 100 millionth iPod. Coming five-and-a-half years after the portable music player went on sale, the landmark event confirms the iPod as Apple’s most popular product of all time.
Until the iPhone arrives a couple months later, that is!
Some computer setups are more Apple-ish than others. Apple-y. Apple-centric. Today’s featured M1 Max MacBook Pro outfit welcomes a new Studio Display to replace a recently “retired” 20-inch Cinema Display, and that’s just the start of the Cupertino madness.
Almost everything else in the setup is Apple, too. The input devices, the audio gear — even some of the wall art. And what’s in the book collection? The Cult of Mac hardcover book.
Photographer and writer Chris Denbow puts an interesting twist on his computer setup. He credits its “Dark Mode” — which is obvious in the photographs of the desk and the room, but extends to the machines and the software he uses — for boosting his focus and creativity. He said the dark theme gives him a “space dedicated to creativity.”
“Introducing ‘Dark Mode,’ a minimal, monochromatic home office/workspace that helps eliminate distractions, [and] allows focus and productivity,” Denbow told Cult of Mac.
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.
Soon after Apple officially killed the iPod on Tuesday, users flooded Twitter with remembrances of the little music player that changed the world when it barged onto the scene in 2001.
From tech influencers to industry analysts to garden-variety music lovers — you know, the folks whose ears lit up when Apple gave them a device that put 1,000 songs in their pockets — it was a genuine iPod lovefest.
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.
For the first computer setup featured in the new year, we look backward. Not to the recently subsided and mostly loathed 2021, but further back to a controversial Apple product launch from nearly a decade ago. And deeper into Apple’s storied history. Cult of Mac reader Michael De Jong shared some interesting older gear and some iconic imagery with usin his setup photographs.