Today in Media History: Apple’s Steve Jobs introduces the iPod in 2001

October 23, 2014
Category: Uncategorized

The iPod, Apple’s hard disk-based digital audio player, was introduced by Steve Jobs on October 23, 2001.

“‘With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go,’ said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. ‘With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.’”
— An excerpt from the original Apple iPod press release

Screenshot from iPod introduction video, 2001

Screenshot from iPod introduction video, 2001

“Now, with the introduction of the sleek little iPod, a $399 personal digital-music player, Steve has finally built a widget. About the size of a pack of cigarettes, the iPod is more than just a portable sound machine, however. It’s a new kind of gadget that has the potential to change how we think about personal audio-entertainment gizmos, much as Sony’s first pocket-sized transistor radio did in 1958, and the Sony Walkman portable stereo tape player did 20 years later. The progeny of an eight-month crash-development project, the iPod also vividly illustrates how Apple’s engineering and software skills could make it a force to be reckoned with in the consumer electronics business long dominated by leviathans like Sony and Matsushita.”

— “Apple’s 21st-Century Walkman CEO Steve Jobs thinks he has something pretty nifty. And if he’s right, he might even spook Sony and Matsushita”
Fortune Magazine, November 12, 2001

A video of the Steve Jobs iPod introduction:

“Steve Jobs noticed something earlier this year in New York City. ‘I was on Madison,’ says Apple’s CEO, ‘and it was, like, on every block, there was someone with white headphones, and I thought, Oh, my God, it’s starting to happen.’ Jonathan Ive, the company’s design guru, had a similar experience in London: ‘On the streets and coming out of the tubes, you’d see people fiddling with it.’ And Victor Katch, a 59-year-old professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan, saw it in Ann Arbor. ‘When you walk across campus, the ratio seems as high as 2 out of 3 people,’ he says.

They’re talking about the sudden ubiquity of the iPod, the cigarette-box-size digital music player (and its colorful credit-card-size little sister, the Mini) that’s smacked right into the sweet spot where a consumer product becomes something much, much more: an icon, a pet, a status indicator and an indispensable part of one’s life. To 3 million-plus owners, iPods not only give constant access to their entire collection of songs and CDs, but membership into an implicit society that’s transforming the way music will be consumed in the future.”

— “iPod Nation
Newsweek, July 26, 2004

Here is a 2006 Discovery Channel documentary about the iPod. (This clip is part two. Click here to see the rest of the program.)

The iPod era, which began on October 23, 2001, is coming to a close. Recently Mashable posted a story called, “Requiem for an iPod Classic.”

“Amid all the new products it introduced on Tuesday, Apple also quietly but officially retired the iPod classic.

This was more than a little ironic, considering U2’s appearance alongside Tim Cook with a splashy new Apple video that recalled the iPod silhouettes campaign from the mid-2000s. Indeed, the U2 ad feels like an homage to what is still one of the most successful consumer electronics products ever (which also came in a U2 edition).

Although the end of the iPod classic hardly comes as a surprise — Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff wrote a eulogy for the device back in January — we can’t help but greet the reality that Apple has retired its hard disk-based MP3 player lineup with a twinge of sadness.

Sure, the iPod nano, iPod touch and iPod shuffle still exist. But for many of us, the traditional iPod still holds a special place in our heart. It’s not a stretch to say that without the original iPod, Apple as we know it would not exist.”