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‘End of an era’: Apple finally kills the iPod after 20 years, and fans are rolling back the years with iconic imagery and tributes

May 11, 2022, 11:42 AM UTC

From dancing silhouettes wearing Apple’s iconic white headphones to new releases dripping in rainbow-colored paint, memories of the iPod have been cemented into our collective consciousness over the past two decades.

But after a 20-year reign, Apple is finally stopping production on the device that changed consumer electronics and the music industry forever.

The Apple music device was first launched on Oct. 23, 2001, with the slogan “1,000 songs in your pocket.” When introducing the device, which at the time could hold one’s entire music library on a 5GB Toshiba hard drive, Steve Jobs called the device “a quantum leap in listening to music.”

“With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again,” Jobs said at the product launch.

But now the iPod Touch—the last iteration of the iPod—is being discontinued, with sales only lasting until stock runs out.

“Music has always been part of our core at Apple, and bringing it to hundreds of millions of users in the way iPod did impacted more than just the music industry—it also redefined how music is discovered, listened to, and shared,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement.

People have gone online to pay their respects to the “end of an era.”

Mourning the loss

People have been posting pictures of old advertisements and different versions of the iPod throughout the years

Musicians holding an iPod cemented its number one status as the MP3 device of the 2000s

And others celebrated the product for the changes it made to our society.

A brief history

When presenting the iPod in 2001, Steve Jobs said Apple chose to make an MP3 device because music was a part of everyone’s life, yet there was no market leader in the space. The product also provided an ongoing revenue stream for Apple through iTunes, which it had launched several months earlier as a platform where people could legally purchase digital music.

The name iPod came from a quote in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the main character David Bowman says “Open the pod bay doors, Hal.” In an analogy between the relationship between the spaceship and the smaller independent pods in the relationship between the personal computer and the music player, the name iPod was born.

After its launch, the iPod became the face of portable music and saw its popularity grow massively. By 2005, about 11% of the U.S. population owned an iPod or another MP3 device, a study by the nonprofit Pew Internet & American Life Project found.

Then came the click wheel design. After releasing several other versions of the iPod Classic, Apple redesigned the iPod user face with the iPod Mini by adding a click wheel, the touch-sensitive scrolling hardware with no buttons.

When Jobs presented the iPhone’s new user interface technology, he stated, “We have been very lucky to have brought a few revolutionary user interfaces to the market in our time. First was the mouse. The second was the click wheel.”

Smaller versions of the iPod—the Nano and the Shuffle—were then released until 2007, when Apple launched the iPhone. When announcing the iPhone, Jobs said the new device would be an “iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator.”

At the time of the iPhone’s invention, Steve Jobs initially wanted an “iPod plus phone” device with the click wheel technology integrated into the iPhone, according to ex-Apple developer Tony Fadell. But after the same developers who designed the iPod couldn’t integrate click wheel technology into a phone, they switched to an entirely multitouch glass screen—creating a product that would eventually cannibalize the iPod itself.

The announcement of the iPhone came with the last generation of the iPod, which is being discontinued today—the iPod Touch. Apple said it will remain available while stocks last.

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