We're hard pressed to say the iPod family's fallen on particularly hard times, but being under such excruciating public scrutiny can take its toll on any dynasty; especially in a year like 2005, the family shaken to its core by so many tragic deaths. From the humble beginnings of the iPod that began the legacy so many years back, all the way up to the tragic loss of the iPod mini just yesterday, we felt it might be time to take a visit to the iPod family cemetary on this early autumn afternoon.
A homely child of more meager means than its descendants and the first born in the New World, the iPod had only 5GB of storage to its name-though unprecedented at the time, it was immediately rebuked for its price of $399. It had with it a mere monochrome 160 x 128 LCD, 32MB of RAM and 32MB ROM, but included two things then widely unheard of, a 1.8-inch hard drive, and the mechanical scroll wheel. Alas, the iPod didn't know how to work with Windows, was FireWire-only at first, and only sold 125,000 units in its first two months. In March of 2002 the iPod went to 10GB, but passed on peacefully in July of 2002.
The first generation iPod
October 2001 - July 2002
The iPod head of the family.
The second generation iPod
July 2002 - April 2003
Survivor of the lean years.
But a few mournful months after the passing of the 5GB iPod and the birth of the 10GB iPod, came a new 10GB iPod and the 20GB, which started at $499. Perhaps one of the least well-remembered of the iPod family, this iPod included the first non-mechanical (solid state) scroll wheel, though the center and circumference buttons remained tactile. Perhaps most groundbreaking was the official Windows support (via Musicmatch Jukebox, ironically), though the wired remote, calendar, and artist search were all significant as well. Eventually this iPod would undergo tattoos by Beck, No Doubt, Madonna, and Tony Hawk before being committed to history in April of 2003.
The third generation iPod
April 2003 - July 2004
Educated and worldly.
This was the iPod—born of humbler pedigree—that grew up, provided for itself a higher education, and made its own way in the world. The third generation of the family rid itself entirely of mechanical buttons on its body, shed some of its baby fat around the waist down to 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.62-inches, and came forth at $299 for 10GB, $399 for 15GB, and $499 for 30GB. This was also the first iPod child to feature a remote connector and dock connector—which finally enabled USB 2.0. In September the 30GB iPod was priced at $399, and a 40GB model was released for $499.
The first generation iPod mini
January 2004 - February 2005
The prodigal son.
By January 2004 it was clear the iPod family had many more children on the way, the first of which being the iPod mini. The first iPod family member with a 1-inch hard drive, the 1,000 song 3.6 x 2.0 x 0.5-inch mini carried with it 4GB of space, yet asked $249—only $50 less than its parentage. Critics once again panned, but the mini bounced back anyhow, possibly due in part to its peacockish colors and ornate all-aluminum exterior. Or perhaps it had something to do with its click wheel—the final blend of tactile/mechanical and solid-state control for the iPod family.
The fourth generation monochrome iPod
July 2004 - June 2005
The beginning of the end of the beginning.
The first full-size iPod with a click-wheel, the fourth generation monochrome was prideful in its resplendent minimal glory and improved power-saving features when introduced in July of 2004 at $299 for 20GB, and at $399 for 40GB. Perhaps among the most long running and successful of the iPod family, even the fourth generation's good breeding could not save it from passing on in the wake of the iPod color in the fateful summer of 2005.
The iPod photo
October 2004 - June 2005
The family drunk - corpulent, befuddled, and confused.
When the iPod photo was first introduced to the family in October of 2004 along with the U2 iPod, there was more than a slight amount of confusion. Though the photo was the first iPod to feature a 60GB drive (and among the only of its time, as well), it was not granted the video viewing capabilities that were so longed for, but merely a color screen and limited support for imaging—and not without some fattening up to 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.75-inches. The $499 40GB photo was a full $100 more than its monochrome kin, while the 60GB photo was an astounding $599. To combat this price differential, a 30GB photo was reared in place of the 40GB in February 2005, which went for $350, but did not ship with a dock. The photo would eventually lose its 30GB version as well when its featureset was incorporated into the primary iPod branch of the family tree.
The HP iPod
January 2004 - August 2005
The legitimate half-sibling.
The HP iPod's date of birth is to this day debatable, but HP announced it was pregnant with the half-sibling sired by Apple in January 2004 at CES. The carriage went long, however, and HP didn't actually give birth until August 2004. But by then it was quadruplets: the HP iPod photo appeared in April 2005, the HP iPod mini in June, and the HP iPod shuffle in July. But HP sought to differentiate its lineage. After somehow befriending Sean "Diddy" Combs, HP went along with "Printable Tattoos," early music-themed skins which wound up somewhat disastrous to the augmented family as they stuck heavily to the iPod's body and left a sticky residue. But the Apple side of the family never seemed too displeased with the coming together—by the time of their unpropitious demise the HP iPod children accounted for 7% of the iPod family.
The second generation iPod mini
February 2005 - September 2005
The prodigal son returns.
At long last and with a heavy heart we commit thee, iPod mini, to your family's plot. The even more flamboyant aluminum-clad lovechild of its forbears, the second generation mini lost its golden gilding in favor of a more vibrant range of colors, and even came as large as 6GB. Taken from us so young while, the mini is survived by its younger siblings the shuffle and nano, and elder sibling the fourth generation iPod color.