The original iPod had an incredibly short 10-month development cycle
Patrick Collison, CEO of Stripe, tweeted that Tony Fadell, an ex-Apple Senior Vice President, chatted with him about the iPod's development's timeline. Fadell evidently indicated that the device was conceptualized, developed, and launched over just 10 months.
Fadell told Collison that when he joined Apple in January 2001, there were no prototypes, designs, or even a proper team in place for the iPod. However, they were able to put things together and get the iPod to market by November.
Collison provided a detailed timeline based on his conversation. According to it, a prototype iPod went to Steve Jobs by March, manufacturing partners were found by April, and iPods were in customer hands by November.
Apple-and tech companies in general these days-invest considerably more time towards R&D. This is understandable, considering that even calculators today are an order of magnitude more complex than the original iPod.
Still, the conversation and timeline are an interesting snapshot of how things worked at Apple a bit before it became the trillion-dollar behemoth it is today.