Sixteen Years Ago Today, Apple Literally Reinvented the Wheel

October 23rd, 2017

apple ipod sixteen

By Eric Frisch, 10x Management Writer

As of today, the iPod is officially old enough to drive, which seems appropriate given it was born with a wheel in its hands. Sixteen years ago with the introduction of the iPod, Apple did what many people always believed to be impossible and reinvented the wheel.

The iPod drastically changed consumer culture and advanced the miniaturization of technology by leaps and bounds, not to mention forever shifted the fortunes of Apple. And just like the wheel, it moved humanity forward. It’s the great grandfather of the mobile phone and music streaming services. The original iPod was marketed as “1,000 songs in your pocket” that you could navigate with a simple rotation of your thumb on a sleek touch wheel. That was remarkable at the time. Sure, we had CD players, and some people even tried out mp3 players before the iPod was introduced. But all of that preceding technology was clunky or inconvenient or a hassle to figure out. It required mp3 cartridges, dispersed software, or even worse, CDs! I can still remember my CD collection in my giant Case Logic CD Case that I was too excited to show off freshman year of college.

Steve Jobs, Apple, and the iPod changed everything. You plugged in your iPod, and as long as you had iTunes and put some music on it, you were all set to go. Your songs automatically populated the iPod. It was simple, it was streamlined, and it was pretty. You had to make some tough choices if you loved a lot of music, because 1,000 songs was somewhat limited, but it was still far superior to anything else at the time. And for that, we say Happy Sweet Sixteen to the iPod!

The real question is, how much can technology change in just sixteen years? For one, the iPod is completely irrelevant today, because people listen to music on their phones now. I had to look up if Apple even still made the iPod today. To my surprise, it does. Sadly, the wheel is gone. Why is the iPod an ancient relic of the past today? Forget just music, people want their mobile devices to do everything! Phone calls, video calls, social media, email, browsing, maps, dating, apps, and everything in between. And how about that 1,000 song limit? Today, on your mobile phone, you have access to literally every song that was ever recorded ever in the history of the world at any point in time no matter what. We went from 1,000 songs sixteen years ago to millions of songs in your pocket today. There are 20 million songs on Spotify, and there are 4 million songs on Spotify that have never been played once. Not once! I’m reminded of Tim Meadows in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (best movie ever) repeating to Dewey, “You never paid for drugs! Not once!” For the math nerds out there, a thousand songs to 20 million songs is a 1,999,900 percent increase in the amount of songs available on your mobile device. The point is technology changes fast. And as history has shown us, the wheel is a great starting point.

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