National iPod Day is observed annually on October 23. Apple introduced the iPod on October 23, 2001. The iPod changed the way we listened to and purchased music. The first iPod was sold on November 10, 2001, for $399. However the price and Mac-only compatibility caused sales to be relatively slow until 2004. The iPod line came from Apple’s “digital hub” category, when the company began creating software for the growing market of personal digital devices. Digital cameras, camcorders and organizers had well-established mainstream markets, but the company found existing digital music players “big and clunky or small and useless” with user interfaces that were “unbelievably awful,” so Apple decided to develop its own. As ordered by CEO Steve Jobs, Apple’s hardware engineering chief Jon Rubinstein assembled a team of engineers to design the iPod line, including hardware engineers Tony Fadell and Michael Dhuey, and design engineer Sir Jonathan Ive. Rubinstein had already discovered the Toshiba hard disk drive while meeting with an Apple supplier in Japan, and purchased the rights to it for Apple, and had also already worked out how the screen, battery, and other key elements would work. The aesthetic was inspired by the 1958 Braun T3 transistor radio designed by Dieter Rams, while the wheel-based user interface was prompted by Bang & Olufsen’s BeoCom 6000 telephone. The product “the Walkman of the twenty-first century” was developed in less than one year and unveiled on October 23, 2001. Jobs announced it as a Mac-compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that put “1,000 songs in your pocket.”
Apple did not develop the iPod software entirely in-house, instead using PortalPlayer’s reference platform based on two ARM cores. The platform had rudimentary software running on a commercial microkernel embedded operating system. PortalPlayer had previously been working on an IBM-branded MP3 player with Bluetooth headphones. Apple contracted another company, Pixo, to help design and implement the user interface under the direct supervision of Steve Jobs. As development progressed, Apple continued to refine the software’s look and feel. Starting with the iPod Mini, the Chicago font was replaced with Espy Sans. Later iPods switched fonts again to Podium Sans—a font similar to Apple’s corporate font, Myriad. Color display iPods then adopted some Mac OS X themes like Aqua progress bars, and brushed metal meant to evoke a combination lock. In 2007, Apple modified the iPod interface again with the introduction of the sixth-generation iPod Classic and third-generation iPod Nano by changing the font to Helvetica and, in most cases, splitting the screen in half by displaying the menus on the left and album artwork, photos, or videos on the right (whichever was appropriate for the selected item).
In 2006 Apple presented a special edition for iPod 5G of Irish rock band U2. Like its predecessor, this iPod has engraved the signatures of the four members of the band on its back, but this one was the first time the company changed the colour of the metal (not silver but black). This iPod was only available with 30GB of storage capacity. The special edition entitled purchasers to an exclusive video with 33 minutes of interviews and performance by U2, downloadable from the iTunes Store. In 2007, during a lawsuit with patent holding company Burst.com, Apple drew attention to a patent for a similar device that was developed in 1979. Kane Kramer applied for a UK patent for his design of a “plastic music box” in 1981, which he called the IXI.He was unable to secure funding to renew the US$120,000 worldwide patent, so it lapsed and Kramer never profited from his idea.
The name iPod was proposed by Vinnie Chieco, a freelance copywriter, who (with others) was called by Apple to figure out how to introduce the new player to the public. After Chieco saw a prototype, he thought of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and the phrase “Open the pod bay door, Hal!”, which refers to the white EVA Pods of the Discovery One spaceship. Chieco saw an analogy to the relationship between the spaceship and the smaller independent pods in the relationship between a personal computer and the music player. Apple researched the trademark and found that it was already in use. Joseph N. Grasso of New Jersey had originally listed an “iPod” trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in July 2000 for Internet kiosks. The first iPod kiosks had been demonstrated to the public in New Jersey in March 1998, and commercial use began in January 2000, but had apparently been discontinued by 2001. The trademark was registered by the USPTO in November 2003, and Grasso assigned it to Apple Computer, Inc. in 2005.
The earliest recorded use in commerce of an “iPod” trademark was in 1991 by Chrysalis Corp. of Sturgis, Michigan, styled “iPOD”. In mid-2015, several new color schemes for all of the current iPod models were spotted in the latest version of iTunes, 12.2. Belgian website Belgium iPhone originally found the images when plugging in an iPod for the first time, and subsequent leaked photos were found by Pierre Dandumont. In 2017, Apple removed the iPod Nano and Shuffle from its stores, marking the end of Apple producing standalone music players. Currently, the iPod Touch is the only iPod produced by Apple.