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Apple iPod Retrospective

Apple's iPod has come a long way over the years, from an innovative MP3 player to a full-fledged portable media device. Here's an overview of each model and milestone.
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1 of 23 Josh Taylor/ZDNet
Apple iPod: Over the years
Apple's iPod has come a long way over the years, from an innovative MP3 player to a full-fledged portable media device. Here's an overview of each model and milestone.
Back to: "The Toybox: Looking Back: The Apple iPod"
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2001: Apple iPod (1G)
The first-generation iPod arrived to the market in 2001 with mixed reaction. Why pay $399 for a 5GB hard drive with a 10-hour lithium polymer battery? The device's liquid-crystal display had a resolution of 160 pixels by 128 pixels and "offered an LED backlight."
With its FireWire port, users could download an entire CD onto the iPod in under 10 seconds and 1,000 songs in less than 10 minutes. For a 6.5-ounce deck of cards, not bad.
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2002: Apple iPod (2G)
The second generation of Apple's iPod, released in 2002, added a feature we now all take for granted: the touch wheel. It looked similar to the first-generation's scroll wheel, but it didn't turn. There were two versions: 10GB and 20GB.
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2003: Apple iPod (3G)
The third-generation of iPods added a dock connector and the famous four-button layout. It came in 10GB, 15GB and 30GB models, with 20GB and 40GB models released later that year.
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2004: Apple iPod mini (1G)
The iPod mini took the world by storm by shrinking the now-popular iPod's frame, giving it an aluminum casing and moving the hold button to the top. It debuted at 4GB.
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2004: Apple iPod (4G)
The fourth-generation iPod did away with the external button layout and appeared in 20GB and 40GB versions, using the click wheel of the mini.
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2004: Apple iPod Special Edition U2
In celebration of U2's album How To Dismantle An Atom Bomb, Apple released the iPod Special Edition U2, a standard iPod model with certain external differences that included a black plastic exterior, red click wheel, signatures of the U2 band members engraved on the back, and "iPod Special Edition U2" engraved on the back.
The first model was based an iPod (click wheel) with a 20 GB hard drive. In June 2005, a new version of the iPod Special Edition U2 was introduced that was based on a 4G iPod with color display. Another 5G version was released in 2006.
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2004: Apple iPod photo (4G)
The iPod photo turned a 4G iPod and gave it a full-color display, ideal for viewing album artwork and playing slideshows. It was available in two flavors: 40GB and 60GB, with 20GB and 30GB models introduced later, in 2005.
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2005: Apple iPod shuffle (1G)
The iPod without a screen, the featherweight little brother of the iPod family was little more than a USB connector and flash memory drive, in 512MB and 1GB varieties. LED lights indicated control response.
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2005: Apple iPod mini (2G)
The mini came storming back to the market with flair, adding color to a consumer's decision of device. It came in two capacities: 4GB and 6GB.
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2005: Apple iPod nano
In an instant, the iPod mini looked, well, less than miniature. With an even smaller size, flash memory and color screen, the nano was the hottest new device on the market. Available in black and white, it came in 2GB and 4GB capacities, with a 1GB model added in 2006.
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2005: Apple iPod (5G)
Not to be upstaged by its smaller brother, the full-size iPod got a glassy facelift in 2005. It kept its hard drive, but featured a large, widescreen color display, a click wheel, and the capability of displaying photos and videos. It was available in 30GB and 60GB, with an 80GB model introduced the following year.
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2006: Apple iPod nano (2G)
Building off the success of the multi-colored second-generation mini, the 2G nano offered several colors and the same aluminum-type skin as the 2G mini. It came in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB capacities.
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2006: Apple iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition (2G)
In the same spirit as the original U2 Special Edition iPod, the iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition was a 2G iPod nano available in red and in a 4GB or 8GB capacity. With each iPod nano (PRODUCT) RED purchased, $10 from the sale went directly to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in Africa.
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2006: Apple iPod shuffle (2G)
Could the shuffle get any smaller? Apparently yes, and the downsized, 1GB second-generation model appeared in late 2006, barely bigger than a quarter. A 2GB model arrived in 2008.
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2007: Apple iPod nano (3G)
How can you shoehorn video onto the small screen of the iPod nano? By fattening it up, for one. The third-generation nano, available in five colors, added a wider screen and video capability to the small device, and was available in 4GB and 8GB capacities.
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2007: Apple iPod classic (6G)
Not to be upstaged by the nano, the biggest iPod sibling got a glassy makeover and a new name in 2007. Still a a hard drive-based iPod (80GB or 160GB), it featured a large, widescreen color display, a click wheel, and the capability of displaying photos and videos. The iPod classic was available in silver and black, and had an anodized aluminum and polished stainless steel enclosure.
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2007: Apple iPod touch (1G)
The iPod to end all iPods. Playing off the popularity of the recently-introduced iPhone, the iPod touch stripped the phone and GPS capabilities from the device to offer the most interactive iPod experience to date. The device featured a 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen multi-touch display and 8GB, 16GB or, later, 32GB flash drive capacities. Users could browse the web with Safari and watch YouTube videos on the first-ever Wi-Fi iPod -- even search, preview, and buy songs from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store.
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2008: Apple iPod shuffle (3G)
The shuffle finally gets the colors of its older iPod stablemates -- five, in fact. This year's generation of shuffles are available in 1GB and 2GB, for $49 and $69, respectively.
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2008: Apple iPod nano (4G)
The design of this year's nano harkens to the first-generation nano, slipping a wider screen in a narrower device for sideways viewing, adding a "shake to shuffle" motion sensor and coating the whole thing in your choice of nine vibrant colors. The units are available in 8GB and 16GB varieties, at $149 and $199, respectively.
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2008: Apple iPod classic (7G)
The big kahuna of iPods packs even more memory than ever, available only in 120GB and in a choice of satin-like silver or black colors at $249.
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2008: Apple iPod touch (2G)
The touch returns in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB versions at $229, $299 and $399 price points. The new touch adds support for Nike+.
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2009: ?
What's to come for the Apple iPod in 2009 and beyond? Will it remain an iPod, or undergo another reinvention? It remains to be clear, and millions of consumers are waiting for the next version of the most popular device in its class.

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