Friday, November 11, 2011

10 years of iPod

I skipped posting about the passing of Steve Jobs simply because so many others wrote so much better than I ever could. But it was indeed a sad day.

Better, I think, commemorate the arrival of the ubiquitous iPod.

Except, 10 years ago, it was a niche hard drive based mp3 player in a fledgling market dominated by the Nomad Jukebox and Archos Jukebox.

Unlike these players, Apple presented their player as a slim Lucite and stainless steel encased jewel, to be handled only with white cotton gloves.

Ok, so the last bit's not true, but this player did kick off a whole industry in aftermarket cases that continues to this day.

I think I had probably got an email flyer from Apple announcing the iPod - I knew there and then I had to have one and pre-ordered one straight away. This is the only gadget I have ever pre-ordered.

At that time I was using my most excellent Sony MiniDisc MZ-R55 for portable music.

The truth was, that having just acquired an iBook, I was ripping more and more of my CDs to the harddrive and listening through iTunes (which existed before the introduction of the iPod, fact fans), and it was getting increasingly cumbersome to get stuff onto MiniDisc. That and the fact that MiniDisc, as a format, didn't really solve the problem of transporting a goodly selection of music around - the discs actually being fatter than the CDs they replaced.

It's worth noting that Sony did beef up MiniDisc with the addition of higher capacity discs and USB connection to PCs, but it was too late to stave off the assault of MP3 players in general.

If I have one regret it's that the iPod just did not sound as good as that Sony. In fact, the MiniDisc was one of the best sounding portable players and could probably hold it's own today. Pity it was such an inconvenient format.

That MZ-R55 went for a pittance on eBay, but I still have the iPod. It still works, holds some charge, and more importantly, syncs with my current iTunes 10.5 library. I'm using a beast of a firewire cable to charge it right now. Take that, weedy iPod touch cable!

I've also just done a little compare and contrast and, yes, the original iPod still sounds weak. So does the Macbook Pro, surprisingly. No, the best sounding device I have is the not so portable iPad. Funny, that.

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