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Happy 13th Birthday to the iPod

Jason O. Gilbert
·Technology Editor

The original iPod is now eligible for a Bar Mitzvah. Happy 13th birthday, and mazel tov! 

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Thirteen years ago today –– that would be Oct. 23, 2001 –– Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the world to a weirdly named device called the iPod. The rectangular gizmo could store “up to 1,000 CD-quality songs” and featured a weird controlling mechanism that Jobs called the “scroll wheel.”

The first iPod came with 5 GB of storage and “up to 20 minutes of shock protection for nonstop playback when running, biking or other activities.” It cost $399 and came with a pair of white earbuds, as well as a CD that would help you install iTunes.

You can watch Jobs introduce the iPod below, and read Apple’s press release touting the new iPod here. The product had been teased with the clue that Apple would present a “breakthrough digital device (hint: it’s not a Mac)”: 

We all know what happened after Oct. 23, 2001: iPods and white earbuds became ubiquitous, with the iPod and its follow-ups dominating the MP3 market for many years. Then came the iPhone, then the MacBook Air, then the iPad, and so on.

It was the iPod, though, that really first launched Apple into the consumer stratosphere and established Apple as a cool, future-forward technology company. The lustworthy iPod, together with a series of infectious silhouette-based advertisements, would help cement Apple’s tastemaking status.

(Here’s the first iPod advertisement, by the way. Like the iPod itself, this would get better.)

In September, Apple finally did away with its iPod Classic, discontinuing its last version of the iPod with a scroll wheel. Apple still sells touchscreen versions of its iPod, of course, though some wonder for how much longer: The ability to play, and store, music on your smartphone has made owning a specialized MP3 unnecessary for many. Its core function has been assumed by gadgets that can do more. 

Whoa, look at me, going all Debbie Downer on the iPod’s birthday! Let’s save those grim thoughts for another time. For now: Happy 13th birthday, iPod! Now let’s put on some Feist to celebrate. 

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