Hard to believe it, but a half decade ago today Steve Jobs stood up in front of a small crowd and introduced an "MP3 music player... that plays all of the popular open formats of digital music, MP3, MP3 VBR, WAV, and AIFF," a device that changed the consumer electronics industry forever. Of course, that device was the iPod. Love it or hate it (we tend to have mixed feelings about it 'round Engadget HQ), the iPod helped to make consumer electronics cool again, and managed to be a huge step forward for the CE industry shortly after the tech bubble had burst -- and during a time when the country was in turmoil after the attacks of 9/11, no less. No, the iPod wasn't the first digital music player -- not even the first with a portable hard drive -- but we're not going to wax on about what it was that charmed tens of millions of consumers out of their hard earned cash. So we figured it'd be enough to present to you an iPod family tree, do a little groundskeeping to make sure the iPod family cemetery is in good shape, and let you blow out the iPod's birthday candles whichever way you like.

P.S. - Check out Steve's original introduction to the iPod after the break. Ah, memories.

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