A look back at the iPod on the occasion of its 20th anniversary

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Yesterday was the official 20e anniversary of the iPod, the product that started Apple’s comeback since on one’s last legs in 1997. It was Apple’s first truly innovative device beyond Macs that took the world by surprise, killing Sony Walkmans and MP3 players in no time. It was a phenomenon that could hold 1,000 songs in your pocket.

On Thursday, Bloomberg interviewed Tony Fadel, one of the main contributors to the commercialization of the iPod. While Fadell believes Apple is working on a major new version of the product, he also pointed out that innovation will also be displayed by bringing new accessories, services and software to market.

Fadell also used the interview to step aside and go after Facebook’s elusive “Metaverse”. Fadell said he “heard about the metaverse in 1988 when we were making virtual reality glasses back then. this emotional aspect for consumers to want to be there all the time? It’s difficult.”

He also warned of the unintended consequences of technology – including in an area he helped pave the way – calling smartphones “the fridge for all this dystopia we see with social media.” Fadell said it’s incumbent on tech leaders to regulate themselves and not expect the government to do so. He referred to a decision by former Apple CEO Steve Jobs not to sell porn on the iTunes Store, despite arguments that the category would be hugely popular and profitable.

“Steve stood up and said, ‘Is this the kind of society we want to live in? Is this what we want our kids to use as products?” Said Fadell. “It is up to the management teams and the boards of directors of these teams to ensure that they are self-regulating.” It seemed like another big blow for Zuckerberg and his teams not responsibly regulating their platform. To learn more about this, read the full Bloomberg report.

Back to the genesis of the iPod

At the request of CEO Steve Jobs, Apple’s head of hardware engineering Jon Rubinstein contacted Tony Fadell, a former General Magic and Philips employee who had a business idea to invent a better MP3 player and start a store. music sales to complete it. Fadell, who previously developed the Philips Velo and the Nino PDA, started a company called Fuse Systems to build the MP3 player and was turned down by RealNetworks, Sony and Philips. Rubinstein had previously discovered the Toshiba hard drive during a meeting with an Apple supplier in Japan, and had purchased the rights to it for Apple, and had also already determined how the display, battery and other key components would perform.

Fadell found support for his project with Apple Computer and was hired by Apple in 2001 as an independent contractor to work on the iPod Project, then named Project P-68. Due to Apple’s engineering and resource constraints with the iMac line, Fadell hired engineers from its start-up, Fuse, and senior engineers from General Magic and Philips to form the iPod development team. .

Time constraints forced Fadell to develop various components for the iPod outside of Apple. Fadell partnered with a company called PortalPlayer to design software for the new Apple music player that became the iPod OS. Within eight months, Tony Fadell’s team and PortalPlayer had completed a prototype.

The power supply was then designed by Michael Dhuey and the screen design by design engineer Sir Jonathan Ive in-house at Apple. The aesthetic was inspired by the 1958 Braun T3 transistor radio designed by Dieter Rams, while the dial user interface was inspired by the Bang & Olufsen BeoCom 6000 phone.

Apple hired another company, Pixo, to help design and implement the user interface (along with Unicode, memory management, and event processing) under the direct supervision of Steve Jobs.

The name iPod was suggested by Vinnie Chieco, a freelance writer, who (along with others) was called in by Apple to figure out how to present the new player to the public. After Chieco saw a prototype, he thought of the 2001 movie: A Space Odyssey and the phrase “Open the pod bay door, Hal”, which refers to the white EVA Pods of the Discovery One spacecraft. Chieco saw an analogy with the relationship between the spacecraft and the small independent pods in the relationship between a personal computer and the music player.

The product (which Fortune called “Apple’s 21st-Century Walkman”) was developed in less than a year and unveiled on 23 October 2001. Jobs advertised it as a Mac compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that puts “1000 songs in your pocket”.

Apple researched the mark and found that it was already in use. Joseph N. Grasso of New Jersey had initially registered an “iPod” trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in July 2000 for Internet kiosks. The first iPod kiosks were introduced to the public in New Jersey in March 1998, and commercial use began in January 2000, but apparently ceased in 2001. The mark was registered by the USPTO in November 2003, and Grasso sold it to Apple Computer. . Below is a copy of the US iPod patent and trademark file. We tried to go into the documents further, but we were unsuccessful.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Back to the iPod with Tony Fadell

On Saturday, C / Net reported that Roger Cheng conducted an in-depth interview with Tony Fadell that was more iPod-centric, unlike the Bloomberg interview.

Below is a 3 minute excerpt from a 15:49 minute Zoom interview. You can view Zoom’s full interview and detailed report here.

The iPhone Killer app

The iPod became the Killer App for the iPhone when it launched in 2007, as featured in the series of images for this landmark keynote. Jobs repeated the phrase: an iPod… a telephone… an Internet communicator – you see!

3x Steve Jobs presenting the iPhone 2007

Not only did the iPhone introduce a revolutionary multi-touch interface and user interface, but it also had its iPod software which made it a killer app that no mobile phone on the planet had back then. It was truly a “Smartphone” that took the world by storm by allowing tens of millions of iPod users to bring their music to a smartphone. It was magical and appealed to this generation like no other device at that time.

“An iPod… a telephone… an Internet communicator – Do you understand! “

Steve Jobs

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