- Apple’s wildly popular iPod first launched in October 2001.
- A rare prototype of a near-final iPod model was recently shown off.
- The device is massive and looks nothing like the final product – that was intentional, to hide the design from Apple’s own staff.
Before former Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled what would become the world’s most popular portable music player, Apple’s iPod was a massive, unwieldy device that looked nothing like the final product.
It featured the iconic click wheel, and it was able to play music. It even had a tiny screen for scrolling through a library of songs!
But in almost no other way did it resemble what would launch in October 2001.
Behold, an iPod prototype from September 2001 that was revealed this week:
-Panic (@panic) October 23, 2021
The Oregon-based indie software and hardware maker Panic pulled the device from “the Panic Archives,” which it described in a blog post as “a closet,” to commemorate the iPod’s 20 year anniversary.
The iPod prototype is massive, which wasn’t a measure of its internals being large so much as a means of hiding the product’s final design from Apple’s own staff.
“This is a P68/Dulcimer iPod prototype we (very quickly) made before the true form factor design was ready,” former Apple designer and “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell said on Twitter of the prototype. “Didn’t want it look like an iPod for confidentiality – the buttons placement, the size – it was mostly air inside – and the wheel worked (poorly).”
Indeed, in other photos posted on Panic’s blog, the iPod prototype’s internals are shown. The vast majority of the inside of the prototype is empty space, with the near-final iPod internals nestled in a corner.
Apple no longer sells an iPod that resembles the original models. The company currently offers an iPod Touch that looks and operates much like an iPhone, albeit without cellular functionality.
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