October 23, 2001
Apple released the first iPod.
Almost 50 years earlier, the transistor radio introduced portability to music. Later, portable cassette players and then CD players gave the listener control over what music they took with them. However, with the advent of digitized music the possibilities extended far beyond the number of songs limited to what could fit on a single cassette or CD.
The Apple iPod introduced the idea of carrying 1000 songs in a “clean, white box the size of a deck of cards.” TM It weighed six and a half ounces and had a ten-hour battery life. AP As Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said in 2022, it “redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared.” AP
It wasn’t the first digital audio player, though. As far back as 1979, a British inventor named Kane Kramer created the IXI, but it could only play one song. It was shelved when he couldn’t market it successfully and, in 1988, the patent expired. After the success of the iPod, Kramer said, “I was just so pleased that finally something that I had done which has been a huge success and changed the music industry was being acknowledged.” PC
When the iPod debuted in 2001, there were six MP3 players already on the market but they “had a calculator aesthetic” TM and only held about eight songs. TM In the first promo video for the iPod, the musician Moby said he owned three earlier MP3 players but couldn’t figure out how to use them. By contrast, he said about the iPod, “I held it, and 45 seconds later, I knew how to use it.” PC
It didn’t really catch on until the third generation. By 2005, over 80% of digital music players sold were iPods. TM However, as with all technology, the iPod and MP3 technology would eventually be supplanted by the rise of streaming services such as Spotify.
For more important days in music history, check out the Dave’s Music Database history page.
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First posted 10/7/2023.