The iPod turns 20

Twenty years in the past this weekend, Apple launched the unique, iconic iPod. Six years…

Twenty years in the past this weekend, Apple launched the unique, iconic iPod. Six years later, I used to be gifted my first and solely model of the machine: a third-generation iPod Nano, match with a sq. display screen, a click on wheel and an engraving on the again: “Sofia Barrett, Pleased eleventh Birthday.”

Apple iPod First generation, with a mechanical scroll wheel, was released on October 23, 2001.

© Chris Willson/Alamy Inventory
Apple iPod First era, with a mechanical scroll wheel, was launched on October 23, 2001.

By that point, the iPod line had begun its lengthy decline from relevance. Apple had already launched the iPhone, which might develop into the centerpiece of its ecosystem of merchandise, and catapult it towards being essentially the most useful tech firm on this planet. However for the subsequent 5 years — a key a part of my teenage life — the iPod helped form my relationship with music and expertise.


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If the iPod was a gateway for a lot of clients into Apple’s {hardware} and software program merchandise, it was additionally an early gateway for me into a kind of consumption that we take as a right on-line: a seemingly limitless quantity of content material, obtainable the second you need it on the faucet of a button, usually for lower than it value within the analog period. (Although, as a youngster with no job, I nonetheless requested my dad and mom for his or her bank cards to purchase songs like “Fergalicious” and “Scorching N Chilly” for $1.29 a chunk.)

Positive, my era had at all times been capable of take their music with them — in my case, beginning with utilizing my dad and mom’ transportable CD participant in elementary college — however the iPod took that to a different degree. It was extra transportable, got here in fairly colours and made it simple to hearken to way more artists at a time.

However the subsequent era of music listening additionally modified how I believed concerning the music. I discovered myself caring far an excessive amount of about iTunes knowledge exhibiting when an album was launched, what style it was categorized as, and what number of occasions I replayed every observe. My music style and delight was suddenly simplified into knowledge factors.

Video: In 2005, an iPod was bought each two seconds. See how CNN coated the phenomenon (CNN Cash)

In 2005, an iPod was bought each two seconds. See how CNN coated the phenomenon



As I began to make use of my iPod and iTunes every day, the info helped me perceive my listening habits. On my iPod, I stored a watch on the Just lately Performed and Prime Rated playlists that got here pre-programmed. On iTunes, I used each knowledge column at my disposal: final performed, date added, variety of skips, and launch date. It was regarding how a lot I parsed my enjoyment of Rihanna’s “Disturbia” into numbers versus how ‘danceable’ it was. My total music listening expertise felt gamified — generally fairly actually, within the type of the ‘Music Quiz’ recreation on my iPod — which wasn’t essentially a foul factor. I used to be curating my very own expertise, listening to the artists I wished, alone phrases.

As my iPod changed my skipping CD participant, the iPhone I received in highschool changed it. There was no want for me to hold two units that each relied on the identical music library. My iPod was laid to relaxation in one among my junk drawers.

However there was a transparent straight line from my expertise with the iPod to the streaming companies like Spotify that I and lots of others shifted to in later years. Now, the songs I wished to listen to did not even have to be bought and downloaded. Abruptly, I used to be listening to extra music than I ever had earlier than. My private jam periods weren’t about cherishing $1.29 singles anymore — they had been about discovery, abundance, and selection. And above all, knowledge.

As revealing as the info on iTunes might be, Spotify felt much more so. “Spotify Wrapped,” one of the vital viral Spotify options, supplies essentially the most specific instance of this. I listened to 57,777 minutes of music in 2020, which implies I spent about one tenth of your complete 12 months listening to music. I obsessively shared my prime Spotify artists with all my mates, virtually as tangible proof of my laborious examine into the historical past of Yacht Rock and Kanye West samples (sure, they’re associated.) Each Monday morning, the “Uncover Weekly” playlist jogs my memory that Spotify is analyzing my each transfer, simply as different streaming music and video companies do.

Surprisingly, I do not discover this invasive in any approach. iTunes, and my iPod, have ready me by introducing exhausting knowledge into my music listening expertise.

As we speak, if a buddy asks me now who my favourite artist is, I might say The Strokes. However the knowledge would not lie: In 2020, my “favourite artist” was Ariel Pink, in keeping with Spotify. By simplifying my very private music tastes into knowledge factors, I’ll know extra unbiased info about myself. However I fear with the info and the algorithmic suggestions, I’ve misplaced among the romanticism and serendipity of sitting by the radio and listening to new, sudden music — between commercials — as I as soon as did earlier than the iPod.

The fashionable listening expertise that the iPod helped kick off could also be handy to a fault. However nostalgia is tough to shake. I nonetheless hold my iPod in my junk drawer.

© Offered by CNN

Sofia Barrett's iPod nano (3rd generation) from 2007.

© Sofia Barrett/CNN
Sofia Barrett’s iPod nano (third era) from 2007.

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