RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple’s Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Apple announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch earlier this week, and since it was the last iPod left for sale, its disappearance essentially marks the end of the entire iPod lineup.


To get the iPod going, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of the most notable iPod releases from the past 21 years.

Original iPod (2001)

Introduced in October 2001, the original iPod was introduced as a device that put 1,000 songs in your pocket. It became one of Apple’s most iconic and well-known products and is one of the devices that brought Apple back to success.

2001 ipod


The original iPod offered a hard drive with 5 GB of storage and a scroll wheel that could physically rotate, and it remains the only iPod with this design. It also included a FireWire port to connect to a Mac, and it sold for $399. Apple followed the original iPod with a nearly identical second-generation model in 2002 that featured a capacitive-feeling Touch Wheel with click buttons on the sides. , and a third-generation model added an even more refined Touch Wheel with buttons above it. The third generation iPod also added a Dock Connector.

3rd Generation iPod


With the fourth-generation model released in 2004, Apple introduced the Click Wheel, a version of the Touch Wheel that also incorporated the buttons. The fourth-generation model stands out because Apple continued to use the Click Wheel for years.

ipod click wheel 4th generation


The iPod photo with its color display followed the fourth-generation model later in 2004, and Apple expanded the color display to all models with the color display iPod in 2005. Both were considered part of the fourth-generation lineup.

ipod color


Apple added video capabilities with the fifth-generation iPod in 2005, and this was also the first iPod to be released in black, aside from the special black-and-red U2 edition of the iPod.

u2 ipod


After the iPod video, Apple introduced the iPod classic, and in 2007, 2008, and 2009 several versions came out, all of which were similar in design. The 2009 iPod classic was Apple’s last iPod in this format and featured a 160GB hard drive, Click Wheel, and widescreen color display. It stuck around until it was discontinued in 2014.

ipod classic views

iPod mini (2004)

Apple’s first iPod mini came out in 2004 and was much smaller than the standard iPod. It came in several fun colors, including yellow, blue, pink, and gold, and it had a standard Click Wheel.

ipod mini 2005


The iPod mini didn’t last long, and although there was a second-generation version in 2005, it was subsequently discontinued in favor of the iPod nano.

iPod nano (2005)

Replacing the iPod mini, the iPod nano is one of Apple’s most interesting iPods because of the many major design iterations it has seen over the years.

ipodnano1


Apple started with a sleek, aluminum iPod with a Click Wheel, color screen, and flash memory that allowed Apple to downsize. The nano was replaced in 2006 by the second-generation version with more rounded edges, a smaller form factor and bright aluminum colors.

ipodnano2


For the third-generation iPod nano, which came out in 2007, Apple went in a completely different direction, and this nano was popularly referred to as the iPod nano “fat.” It had a wider, more compact body with a wider screen, and it was available in a variety of colors.

ipodnano3


The nano fat only lasted a year before it was replaced by the re-slimmed fourth-generation iPod nano, which came in a whole rainbow of colors. It got a bigger screen, a curved front and an accelerometer for the “Shake” function that lets you shake an iPod to shuffle songs.

iPod nano 4


Apple’s 2009 fifth-generation iPod nano was similar to the fourth-generation model, but had a larger screen and included a camera and microphone. It also came in glossier colors, but Apple kept the wide range of color options.

ipodnano5


The nano got a major design overhaul in 2010 with the sixth-generation version that was just a screen in a square case. It used a multi-touch display instead of a Click Wheel, and this is the version people attached watch bands to, making it sort of a precursor to the Apple Watch.

ipod nano 6th generation watch band


Apple changed the design in 2012 with the seventh-generation iPod nano, returning to the rectangular shape but leaving the multi-touch display in place. The nano from this era resembled a smaller iPod touch, with a Home button and support for multiple apps. The seven-generation iPod nano received new colors in 2015 and was discontinued in 2017.

ipod nano colors

iPod shuffle (2005)

Apple’s first iPod shuffle was introduced in 2005 before the second-generation iPod mini, and it looked a lot like an Apple TV Remote. It was Apple’s first iPod without a display, with nothing but a control panel to keep its size small, and it doubled as a flash drive.

ipod shuffle birthday wikimedia commons


The second-generation iPod shuffle received a significant redesign in 2006, and Apple reduced it to about half the size of the original and added a belt clip. It was advertised at the time as the world’s smallest MP3 player, and there was even a small iPod shuffle dock to charge it via the headphone jack. It was launched in silver, but Apple eventually came out with additional colors like pink, blue, green and orange.

ipod shuffle 2nd generation


The iPod shuffle got another redesign in 2009, with Apple adding a speech feature that allows it to say the names of songs and albums aloud using text-to-speech. This is the model where Apple has done away with the controls on the device, instead using headphones with a remote connected for playback.

ipod shuffle 3rd generation


In 2010, Apple decided that no controls on the device was a bad idea and introduced the fourth-generation iPod shuffle. The fourth-generation model was the last iPod shuffle, with bright colors, a smaller chassis, and the return of the Control Pad.

ipod shuffle 2015 lineup


The iPod Shuffle has not received any other design updates, although Apple did introduce new colors in 2015. It was eventually discontinued in 2017.

iPod touch (2007)

The first iPod touch came out in 2007 along with the iPhone, and it was a more affordable alternative to the “iPhone” with no cellular capabilities. It looked a lot like an “iPhone” with a 3.5-inch multi-touch display, and it came with Wi-Fi support, Safari integration, and apps like YouTube, Mail, Maps, and Weather.

ipod touch original


The second and third generation iPod touch models had the same design, but when the ‌iPhone‌ 4 came out in 2010, Apple also redesigned the iPod touch to look the same. It featured a front-facing FaceTime camera, a rear-facing camera, and iMessage support, plus it came in black or white.

ipod touch 2011


Apple redesigned the iPod touch in 2012, and the fifth-generation model featured a larger screen and thinner body, and it was the first iPod touch to feature bright colors. It was released together with the ‌iPhone‌ 5 as a pocket computer with an A5 chip.

iPod touch 5 colors


After the fifth-generation iPod touch, the design didn’t change, but Apple introduced a sixth-generation model in 2017 and a seventh-generation model in 2019, both with updated chips. Following the 2019 release of the seventh-generation iPod touch, the device went without an update for three years until it was discontinued earlier this week.

iPod Touch wallpaper function 2

iPod Replacements

Apple said it had decided to discontinue the iPod line because the capabilities of the iPod are now built into every Apple device, from the “iPhone” and the iPad to the Mac, “Apple TV,” HomePod and Apple Watch.

iPod touch discontinued


Virtually every modern Apple device supports the Apple Music service that Apple introduced in 2015, and is also available on the web, on Android devices, and more, making the iPod obsolete. Apple will sell the iPod touch while supplies last, but it’s already sold out in the United States.

You may still be able to find an iPod touch from a third-party seller, but be quick as they sell out quickly as people strive to get their hands on one of the last iPods available.

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