Who invented the iPod?
Who invented the iPod?
In 2008, some eagle-eye space cadets pouring over pictures of a NASA space shuttle mission noticed a shiny, silvery object in some of the photos. No, it wasn't a UFO observing humanity's modest steps out into the cosmos. You would have heard about that. Probably. Unless it had been covered up. And it wasn't because there was no UFO. Just trust me on this one.
The object was an Apple iPod. The world's most popular mobile music player had made it to the final frontier, nearly seven years after its debut. And it was appropriate because the iPod has a connection to a very famous fictional spaceship (more to come later).
Astronaut Jose Hernandez using an iPod in Space.
It wasn't easy getting the iPod into space. Its lithium battery had to be replaced with an alkaline battery certified for use on the space shuttle. The device could not be carried aboard the space station because additional certification was required.
The Apple iPod was invented by a small team at Apple headed by CEO Steve Jobs in 2000-2001.
Apple wasn't the first to come up with the idea of a mobile music player; that honor goes to Kane Kramer, a British designer who patented the idea back in 1979. But Kramer wasn't able to make money from his invention and his patent lapsed.
Other manufacturers had been making portable music players in the years before Apple jumped into the game. The high cost of these devices, their limited memory, and a lack of user friendliness meant that none of them really caught on. The Creative Labs Nomad player, for example, cost $429 and had only 32 MB of memory, enough to hold the equivalent of two music CDs.
So, in 2000, Apple decided to see if it could invent something better. The team that Jobs led included:
• Jon Rubinstein, senior vice president of hardware engineering
• Jonathan Ive, senior vice president of design;
• Tony Fadell, engineer;
• Michael Dhuey, engineer
• Tim Wasko, interface designer
Apple's iPod team spent about a year designing and building the new device. Instead of following Apple's custom of doing all the work in house, the team used a reference platform developed by PortalPlayer and hired a company called Pixo to develop the user interface.
It was during the preparation to launch the music player that iPod got its name and its connection to space. After seeing a prototype, a freelance copywriter named Vinnie Chieco thought of the line, “Open the pod bay door, Hal!”, from "2001: A Space Odyssey." Astronaut David Bowman makes that demand while inside one of the shuttle pods of the larger Discovery spaceship. Chieco saw the shuttle pod and Discovery as analogous to the music player and the computer.
On Oct. 23, 2001, Jobs unveiled the first iPod, which had a 5 GB hard drive that could hold as many as 1,000 songs. The iPod had a sleek look, a clean design, and was easy to use. The device became a hit, forever changing the portable media player market.
Apple's invention has dominated the market since then, with more than 300 million iPods worldwide. The company has made continuous improvements in the iPod since introducing it more than a decade ago. Today's iPods can hold up to 160 GB of material.