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Introduction > The iPod Family

The iPod Family

Apple's iPods began life as white-and-silver rectangles. But as the family grew and prospered, the case designs changed, shrank, and sported colors. These days, the only thing you can count on in the iPod family is change itself.

  • Original iPod. In October 2001, Apple unleashed the first, Macintosh-only model with 5 gigabytes of storage and a moving scroll wheel. It worked with Apple's free iTunes 2 software for encoding and organizing music files.

  • 10-gig iPod. Apple, realizing it had a good thing on its hands, announced the 10 GB iPod in March 2002. It still had a scroll wheel that actually turned, and it was still Macintosh-only—in theory. Windows and Linux users were already at work adapting the player for use with their own systems.

  • Windows iPod. In July 2002, the Windows world got what it was craving: iPods formatted to work naturally with Windows and the popular MusicMatch Juke-box software. Apple also introduced a new, thinner version of the 10-gigabyte iPod whose scroll wheel was an immobile, solid-state "touchwheel" that responded to finger pressure.

  • 20-gig iPod. The iPod got itself a big sibling that same July day in the form of the 20 GB touchwheel iPod. Both of the touchwheel iPods came with a small remote control that hooks into the headphones cord, and a black carrying case complete with a belt clip. In all, there were then three iPod models—in 5 GB, 10 GB, and 20 GB sizes—in separate Mac and Windows formats.

  • 2003 iPods. The third-generation iPods arrived in a flash of music-related announcements from Apple. The new iPod line came in 10 GB, 15 GB, and 30 GB models, each of which could work either with Mac or Windows. The new iPods were thinner; the 15 and 30 GB models even came with a glossy white docking station that held the iPod upright while it charged, connected to the computer, or blasted tunes though the built-in line-out jack to the family stereo. Later in the year, Apple changed the hard drive sizes to 10 GB, 20 GB, and 40 GB—but the iPod's look remained the same. (In January 2004, the hard drive offerings grew again, to 15, 20, and 40 gigabytes.)

  • iPod Mini. Apple introduced the iPod's first spin-off in early 2004: the iPod Mini, a streamlined, rounded-edged miniature version that can hide behind a business card and looks like the offspring of a lipstick tube and a box of Tic-Tacs. Its smooth anodized aluminum case comes in five bright colors: silver, blue, pink, green, or gold. Within its striking shell, the first Mini contains a 4 GB hard drive that holds 1,000 songs (in AAC format) and includes cables to connect by FireWire and USB 2.0. But while it may look mini on the outside, on the inside it runs the same operating system that lets it do everything a regular iPod can do.

  • The H-Pod. Apple isn't the only company that will ever sell iPods. Hewlett-Pack-ard will soon sell its own iPod, done up in "HP blue," and will include Apple's iTunes for Windows on every computer it sells. (At this writing, HP doesn't know what it will call the thing. But isn't HPod a great name? Get it? "HP"? And H is the letter before I?)

Clearly, the evolution of the iPod has only just begun.

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