Portable jukebox put 1,000 songs in our pocket

Oct. 18, 2019
by Mark Ollig

“We are living in a new digital lifestyle with an explosion of digital devices. It’s huge,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

He made this statement Oct. 23, 2001, at Apple Computer’s campus in Cupertino, CA, during the public introduction of the first iPod music player.

Jobs went on to describe the new Apple iPod as a digital device that could put “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

He then reached into his pocket and held up a small white plastic box (iPod), the size of a deck of playing cards.

The iPod weighed 6.5 ounces and was ergonomically designed with easy-to-use features.

Earbud-style headphones for music listening came with the iPod. They plugged into the 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack.

By rotating iPod’s unique scroll-wheel with your thumb or finger, you could quickly maneuver through the songs digitally stored inside a 1.8-inch 5GB (gigabyte) hard drive.

Assuming 5MB (megabyte) per song, the iPod could hold up to 1,000 songs.

An optional 10GB hard drive model introduced in 2002, stored 2,000 songs.

The iPod could play digital audio using 160/320Kbps MP3 compression file formatting.

It featured a 2-inch diagonal flat panel monochrome LCD (liquid-crystal display) and LED (light-emitting diode) for backlighting for viewing its menu information.

The CPU (central processing unit) used in the iPod was a PortalPlayer PP5002 system-on-a-chip with dual embedded 90 MHz ARM 32-bit microprocessors.

ARM is an acronym for Acorn RISC Machine. RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computer.

Before the iPod, in the late 1980s, Apple was working on a PDA (personal digital assistant) device called the Newton MessagePad.

The Newton MessagePad was the first PDA to recognize handwriting from a stylus pen when pressed on its touch-sensitive display screen.

Apple’s engineering design called for using a low-power-consuming CPU with this PDA.

They established a contractual agreement with the British company, Acorn Computers, and custom-integrated circuit manufacturer VLSI Technology, to use the ARM CPU in the Newton MessagePad.

The Newton MessagePad weighed nearly 1 pound, and measured 7.25 inches by 4.5 inches and .75 inches thick. It became publically available in 1993.

I recall it being a bit pricey; $699 in 1993, or $1,242 if sold today.

Unfortunately, the Newton MessagePad failed user expectations, and its highly-publicized handwriting feature was not reliable.

Apple discontinued the manufacturing of the Newton MessagePad March 4, 1994.

In 1996, US Robotics Corporation’s subsidiary, Palm Inc., began selling a PDA called the Pilot, which was small enough to fit in a shirt pocket.

The Pilot was a handheld computing organizer advertised as, “The pocket-sized organizer that’s always in touch with your PC.”

It was designed to work as a portable peripheral device that could sync data with a desktop or laptop computer, using Windows 95 and 3.1 operating systems.

The Pilot features included Calendar Appointment and Address Book, To-Do List, Calculator, and Memo Pad for note-taking.

A plastic stylus pen to input commands, draw, or make selections was used with the Pilot.

It included a four-shade monochrome screen to display information.

The Pilot computing device could mirror the information contained on a user’s IBM-compatible computers using Palm’s HotSync synchronization software.

It could back up its data to a home or business computer. The Pilot became widely used by medical, law enforcement, business, and technical personal.

During the late 1990s, I used a Palm Pilot at the telecommunications company where I worked.

Did you know the Pilot pen company sued Palm Inc. for using the name Pilot?

The Pilot pen folks alleged consumers would mistake the Palm Pilot solid plastic stylus pen for one of their hollow plastic tubes filled with ink.

Oh, there is more.

In 1998, Microsoft announced their new “Palm PC” product, and guess who sued Microsoft?

You are correct. Palm Incorporated’s parent company, US Robotics.

However; I digress, back to the iPod.

The iPod’s lithium-polymer battery played music for up to 10 hours before needing to be recharged from a Macintosh computer port, or an electrical outlet using an Apple power adapter.

Controls and customizable settings on the iPod included play, pause, skip, shuffle, repeat, startup volume, sleep timer, and multiple language selections.

Downloading songs into the iPod was accomplished by plugging it into the USB port of an Apple computer, or optional docking cartridge.

Apple has always been proprietary when it comes to its software and computers. Software bundled with the first generation iPod could only be used with their Macintosh computers.

Windows operating system computers needed third-party software interfaces, such as EphPod, CopyTrans, or XPlay, for Windows users to manage or back up songs on an iPod.

The original Apple iPod 5GB model sold for $399, and the 10GB model sold for $499, or when adjusted for 2019, would be $578 and $712, respectively.

In case you were curious, today’s Apple iPad Pro with a 1TB hard drive can hold 200,000 songs.

In May 2018, Gracenote, a Nielsen-owned media data specialist company, announced it was using artificial intelligence and machine learning to classify and sort through 90 million songs.

After much thought (and a calculator), I determined one would need an iPod with a 450TB (terabyte) hard drive to hold that many songs.

April 28, 2003, Apple discontinued the production of our portable 1,000-song jukebox.

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