The brief history of portable audio players

The portable cassette player changed the way we listen to music. Image: Shutterstock.

The invention that revolutionised an industry.

Sony released the Walkman portable cassette player in July 1979, introducing us to the strange pleasure of private listening in public places.

The D-50, Sony’s first portable CD player, emerged in November 1984 and was soon nicknamed the Discman.

The first digital music players appeared in 1998, but most had complex interfaces and limited storage capacity.

The Personal Jukebox, an oversized, expensive digital music device released in 1999, spurred the iPod’s development because it used MP3 files.

The iPod was not invented by a single person, but by a team of engineers and designers who worked in total secrecy for Apple.

Believe it or not, digital product engineer Anthony Fadell shaped early iPod prototypes by smashing fishing weights with a sledgehammer.

Apple’s Phil Schiller thought up the iPod’s iconic scroll wheel: “You can’t hit the plus button a thousand times “¦ why not just go around?”

Vinnie Chieco, the man credited with coining the name “˜iPod’, was inspired by a quote from Kubrick’s masterpiece A Space Odyssey 2001: “Open the Pod Bay door, Hal.”

Apple’s first iPod hit the market in October 2001; it had 5GB of storage and boasted it could fit “1,000 songs in your pocket”

In 2001 Bill Gates was unconcerned about the iPod, dismissing it because it only worked with Apple Computers.

In July 2002, Apple shocked the IT industry by announcing the iPod was now compatible with Windows.

In June 2003 Apple sold their first million iPods; by September 2010 Apple had sold 275 million.

In the coming weeks Apple will hold a press conference to announce their fall 2011 line-up. Rumor has it there will be a new generation of iPod touch… We’ll keep you posted.

Image: Apple

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