Gone but not forgotten: The original iPod is now 18 years old
After struggling with the Newton from 1993 to 1998 and the eMate for just a year (1997-1998), Apple decided to develop a personal media player that was unveiled in late October of 2001. Obviously, this player was the first-generation iPod, which was announced by Steve Jobs as a Mac-compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that was able to put "1,000 songs in your pocket" and had a price tag US$399.
The original iPod was released in just two versions, with 5 and 10 GB of storage space. This model had a mechanical scroll wheel, which was replaced with a touch-sensitive wheel less than a year later, when the second-generation iPod classic arrived in mid-July. Less than a year later, on April 28, 2003, Apple came up with the first complete redesign of the iPod classic, which featured an all-touch interface, dock connector, 4-pin remote connector, and a slimmer case. The best part of it all is that it also got support for Windows via iTunes.
All the above is just a small part of Apple's iPod history, which — at least in theory — continues with the iPod Touch, which was updated for the last time at the end of May 2019, when its seventh iteration came out. However, the iPod Touch is very far from the concept of a portable music player. Thankfully, there are still around pieces of hardware like the FiiO M3 Pro or the (painfully expensive) iconic Sony Walkman lineup. Those who just want to play music on a compact device with good autonomy have a lot of choices at their disposal nowadays, they just need to spend some time checking out reviews before deciding what is the best thing for their needs and budget.
The original iPod was discontinued at the end of April 2003 but those who still have one lying around — and in working condition, of course — can keep using it and enjoy a set of features well above and beyond the initial capabilities thanks to RockBox. This custom firmware is supported by the first six iPod classic generations, as well as the Mini and Nano (first and second generations).
Apple has sold over 390 million iPod units by the end of 2014, but the times when iPod sales accounted for no less than 40 percent of the company's total revenue are gone and they are never coming back. After four years in a row with over 50 million units sold (2007-2010), iPod sales began to go down, reaching 14.4 million in 2014, when Apple decided to stop breaking out iPod sales separately in its earnings reports.