Oh, the name lives on for now, attached to a suite of weird late-generation devices -- the Shuffle, the Nano, the Touch -- but when the Apple Store came back online Tuesday after going dark for the company's new-product launch, the last vestige of its original hard-drive click-wheel iPod was no longer for sale.
Over the years I've probably owned six iPods, not counting those we bought for the kids. I still have three -- an original 1-gigabyte flash-memory Shuffle, which no longer works; and an 80-gig fifth-generation model and 160-gig Classic, which do.
Over time, it must be said, Apple signaled its increasing contempt for the device that launched its reputation for first-class human-factor engineering in the consumer market. By 2010, when the iPod had gone more than a year without a capacity or design upgrade, I observed that the newly dubbed Classic was being treated as a stepchild. "It doesn't have the big screen of the iPod Touch, or the game-playing capability, or digital cameras or Wi-Fi antenna," I wrote. "All it's got is roominess, 160 gigabytes worth."
Music collectors lamented Apple's move to less-capacious multimedia phones, pads and other units, even though
Eventually, however, Apple's business model evolved, and the iPod evolved with it. Originally it was a repository for music its owner had acquired elsewhere, either in CD form or (usually illegally) from a file-sharing service such as Napster -- Apple didn't sell music at the time.
The iPod had such a profound impact on the way many of us listen to music that it seems to have been around forever. So it's a bit of a shock to realize that that introductory launch hosted by Jobs took place the month after