Fifteen years ago this week, Apple cofounder and former chief executive Steve Jobs unveiled the legendary original iPod, nine months after Apple introduced its iTunes music software.
“In this whole new digital music revolution,” Jobs said during the debut ceremony.
Since that day, the mobile music icon has sold millions of devices worldwide, changed the way people buy and listen to music, and laid the foundation for Apple’s powerhouse iPhone and iPad.
Fifteen years later, the iPod still has a presence in Apple’s online and physical stores. However, the iPod is certainly past its glory days, as Apple has shifted their company strategy away from downloading songs to a portable device and more towards music streaming services, such as Apple Music.
While the iPod’s role has definitely been diminished, the product cannot be ignored in any high-level consideration of Apple. Following Steve Jobs’ return to the company in 1997, the iPod grew in a way that the iMac didn’t. And the iPod’s concept was part of the value proposition of the original iPhone, which has seen even more success than the iPod and has helped Apple become the most valuable company in the world.
Despite the classic iPod design being retired two years ago, and the remaining members of the iPod line being less important to Apple’s strategy today than they were years ago, it’s still an integral part of history, both for the company and the larger tech industry, which is perhaps why Apple hasn’t chosen to stop selling the iPod.
So here’s a look back at some highlights in the history of the king of MP3 players, from the physically scrolling plastic wheel of the original iPod to the smooth glass and aluminum of today’s iPod Touch.