iPod inventor, Tony Fadell, looks back as iPod turns 20

In 2001, Apple CEO Steve Jobs demanded — not asked — that Tony Fadell join the company to create a groundbreaking new device, but the man who would go on to become known as “The Father of the iPod” initially balked at the idea. “I was like, ‘whoa whoa,'” Fadell tells CNET’s Roger Cheng during a Zoom interview to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the iPod on Oct. 23. “Back then to go to Apple you had to be pretty nuts.”

Apple's first generation iPod music play (5GB) released on October 23, 2001
Apple’s first generation iPod music play (5GB) released on October 23, 2001

Roger Cheng for CNET:

Of course, Fadell eventually agreed and led the team that built one of the most significant products in Apple’s history…

All Fadell knew was that he had to get this thing out before Christmas 2001. That’s a tall order, considering it takes about 18 months to develop a new smartphone today. Fadell said he really got started in May — with a launch just five months later.

“It was nonstop, seven days a week,” he said.

It’s noteworthy that Fadell, and not famed Apple designer Jony Ive, came up with the design of the iPod, going back to that original pitch to Jobs. Ive was behind the iMac and MacBook redesigns. Because the next wave of Macs would embrace white and clear plastic, Fadell used the same design language and applied it to the iPod.

Steve Jobs introducing the third generation iPod in 2003 (Photo: Getty Images)
Steve Jobs introducing the third generation iPod in 2003 (Photo: Getty Images)

MacDailyNews Take: 20 years? How time flies!

What’s really been great for us is the iPod has been a chance to apply Apple’s incredibly innovative engineering in an area where we don’t have a 5%-operating-system-market-share glass ceiling. And look at what’s happened. That same innovation, that same engineering, that same talent applied where we don’t run up against the fact that Microsoft got this monopoly, and boom! We have 75% market share.Steve Jobs, September 2005

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  1. The time at AAPL where owning, freely and without confusion, one’s own music was heralded and quite pleasurable.

    Now, iTunes (Store) is like a back alley and one takes a chance to mingle their library of owned music with Apple Music.

    It’s not just a risk to do so, but a travesty that it describes the current reality.

  2. The iPad father moniker is stupid since the other Rubenstein guy also says he is the father.
    Though in reality it is, of course, Jobs. His idea was to move to the music hardware, he has hired both guys, he has chosen the way how hardware was developed and functioned.

  3. In these days, it’s enough to “identify” and regardless if true, or not, he identifies as the father.
    That last descriptor, WITHOUT a league of identifiers/modifiers/rationalizers, is what’s most concerning.

    How dare he, you, we…to not observe and respect that part of the convo.

  4. I have a first gen, bought broken on eBay. Replaced 5GB mini hard drive with 20GB drive from later iPod (which now has a flash adapter). I need to dust it off and check that it still works, for its 20th anniversary. It should, except maybe weak battery, and it should still sync (through Finder now instead of iTunes) if I can find my TB2 to FireWire adapter. Go spin that wheel… 🌀

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