iPod First Generation Story

The beginning

Apple sent out their invitations with FedEx to a few selected reporters and tech-analysts. It arrived to them all wednesday 17 october 2001. It was a plain white envelope with a handwritten inscription. The card inside the envelope was spare, clean and white. There was a message inside the card:

This coming Tuesday, Apple invites you to the unveiling of a breakthrough digital device.
(Hint: it’s not a Mac).

The unveiling took place at 10 AM in Town Hall, an auditorium inside Apple HQ at Infinity Loop in Cupertino. The 200 invited guests didn’t realize then that they participated in an event revealing a product that would make a dent in the universe and change the way people listen to music for ever. The product was a new member to Apples “digital hub strategy”, a portable mp3 player that would fit in your pocket an hold a 1000 songs. At Apple it was known as P68 or Dulcimer. It was the iPod.


The first iPod was introduced October 23 2001 but wasn’t released to the market until November 10 when Apple shipped their first iPod. The music player was a “ultra-portable” mp3 player, only available to Macintosh users. It came as one size only and the price was $399. In the box you got the iPod, a charger, a FireWire cable, headphones with foam covers in light gray, a software CD and a manual and documentation.

The first generation iPod didn’t sell as well as expected, so in March 21 2002 Apple released a 10 GB model still only available to Macintosh users. The 5 GB model was the same, but the sleeve was different. Now the sleeve was marked with hard drive size. Some boxes came with artists on the sleeve. The 10 GB model came with Billie Holiday, Run DMC, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. The 5 GB model came with Bob Marley and Alanis Morissette. The only other difference was some brief operating instructions printed on the back side of the transparent cellophane wrapped around the iPod. The inside of the boxes and the accessories are the same as the original iPod. The price for the 5 GB model was $399 and the 10 GB model was $499. 5GB and 10GB produced after March 21 but before July 17 are often referred as 1.1 or 1.5 generation iPods.

iPod Second Generation Story

Second Generation, third revision

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1G to the left, 2G to the right

17 July 2002 Apple made four major announcements. First, PC versions of the iPods were unveiled. Second, a 20 GB model was introduced to the market. Third, both the 10 GB and the 20 GB models had the new solid state touch wheel instead of the rotating one. And fourth, the prices were lowered. The 5 GB model was $299. The 10 GB model was $399 and the 20 GB model retailed at $499. All versions still had only FireWire to sync and charge the iPod. Very few PCs had FireWire installed at this time which made the iPod rare in the PC world. The FireWire port on the top part of the iPod had a white plastic cover on the second generation. The FireWire cable was also slightly thinner than the previous one. The 10 GB and the 20 GB models came with a wired remote and a case with belt clip. If you wanted the remote and the case to your 5 GB model, it was possible to buy them as extra accessories, sold by Apple for $39. The earbuds where also slightly different from the first generation, and you now got two sets of foam pieces in black. You also got a soft pouch to put the iPod in when stowing it away for longer periods. The windows models was also shipped with a 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire adapter. The software was updated with time, calendars and contacts. You could also browse your music by composers or genre. Apple started shipping these iPods in late August.

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iPod Third Generation Story

Third Generation iPod

3rd gen boxes

This is not my picture.

April 28, 2003 Apple unveiled the third generation iPod. They begun shipping May 1. The third version was a major redesign of the iPod. The four buttons around the touch wheel had been moved to a straight line under the screen. They where touch sensitive and backlit. The iPod was also slightly thinner and lighter and had a more rounded enclosure. The prices was adjusted so the 10GB model costed $299, the 15GB model costed $399 and the 30GB model costed $499. The FireWire port on top was removed and replaced by the new “30 pin dock connector” at the bottom. It was also shipped with a dock and a single cable with the new 30-pin dock connector in one end and FireWire 400 at the other end. The iPod was both Mac and PC ready. You also got a soft pouch, a 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire adapter and cover caps in white plastic for the dock connector port in the bottom of the iPod. In June 19 Apple finally released software drivers and a dock connector to USB 2.0 cable. By June 23 Apple sells their millionth iPod since introduction in October 2001.

September 8 2003 Apple release the second revision of the third generation. The two larger models were updated with bigger hard drives. 15GB was replaced with 20GB ($399) and the 30Gb was replaced with 40GB ($499). A dock connector-to-USB 2.0 cable and software for PC was also included in the windows versions of the iPod.

In November the complaints about failing batteries reaches its peak when “iPod’s Dirty Little Secret” video spreads across the internet. Apples solution to the problem is to offer existing users a cheaper battery replacement alternative than the regular one.

In January 6 2004 Apple replace the entry level iPod with the 15GB model and announces the sale of its two millionth iPod less than six months after its one millionth. The retailers drop the price of the remaining 10GB iPods to $249.

iPod Fourth Generation Story

Same iPod, two different boxes

Fourth Generation iPod

One can say that the third iPod model acted as a catalyst to transform the iPod from being a MP3 music player into becoming an icon. This new version, the fourth generation, was designed to attract new customers rather than old ones wanting to upgrade. July 19, 2004 Apple released the fourth generation iPod. This iPod was a mix of the third generation iPod and the first generation Mini. The form factor was same as the previous model, but the controls were taken from the mini. The prices on each model were dropped $100, but this time Apple didn’t include any cases or the remote. The 40GB model was shipped with a dock. The case and the remote could be bought separately for $39 each. The iPod came in two different sizes, 20GB for $299 and 40GB for $399. They begun shipping July 20. In the end of 2004 Apple had shipped six million iPods.

The sleeve had the now famous silhouettes from ad company TBWA/ Chiat/ Day on two sides and the color scheme was very bright colors. The size of the box was the same as third generation iPod. The new version iPod offered better battery life and small changes to the user interface.

HPbox02August 27, 2004 Hewlett-Packard announces the iPod+HP version. This was a repacked fourth generation iPod, sold by HP with HP support and only for windows customers. HP also announces a special printer with special printable tattoos to cover the iPod.

October 26, 2004 Apple debuts iPod Photo capable of displaying photos and album art on its new color screen. It was sold in 40GB ($499) and 60GB ($599) capacities and was physically identical with the previous version. It was also shipped with an A/V cable and an iPod photo dock. In November 16 the name was changed from capitalized Photo to lowercase photo.

At the same time a Special Edition U2 iPod was announced. It was designed with a black front and a red click wheel to match the coming U2 studio album “How to dismantle an Atomic Bomb” released November 24. The band members autographs were etched to the iPods polished steel back side. Bono and the Edge attended the unveiling and performed the first track “Vertigo” from the new album. The iPod had a 20GB hard drive and was sold for $349. The first U2 iPods were shipped from Apple November 16.

lm_altview_photoadapterFebruary 23, 2005 the 40GB photo model was discontinued and replaced with a 30GB photo ($349). This iPod was shipped in the new small box and had only documents and CD, earbuds, ac adapter and usb 2.0 cable in the box. The original iPod was also shipped in this small box, only the 60GB iPod photo had the old bigger box and all accessories inside. Late March Apple released a small device called iPod Camera Connector, which made it possible to connect cameras directly to the iPod. The small device costed $29.

In June 28, 2005 Apple made the last update to their fourth generation iPods, both the regular model and the U2 Special Edition. Two regular models were released, 20GB at $299 and 60GB at $399. Both had color screens and could show both photos and album art. The U2 Special Edition was still 20GB but the price was reduced to $329.