Which device was first introduced on the 23rd of October in 2001?

And the answer: the iPod.

Photo credit: public domain. 

In the press release, Apple described the iPod as "a breakthrough MP3 music player that packs up to 1,000 CD-quality songs into a design that fits in your pocket." Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs predicted that "listening to music will never be the same again."

2001 was a challenging year for Apple. The company, focused on their most successful product of the Macintosh Computer Line, was barely breaking even financially. The company had recently narrowly escaped bankruptcy and were under tremendous pressure to create profit for shareholders. With few resources to spare for other projects, Apple investigated the niche of the MP3 player market.

MP3 players of the late 1990s and early 2000s were clunky, difficult to use, and extremely limiting. What's more: digital music sharing was becoming increasingly popular. Illegal file-sharing sites like Napster exploded in popularity, as it gave users the novel option of downloading music files directly from the Internet. It became apparent that Internet-downloaded MP3s were the future of music distribution, and Apple knew they had a chance to corner the market.

With a tight, six month deadline for creation, production and distribution, Apple's iPod team got right to work. Slowly, the smooth, sleek look of the iPod came to fruition, with a unique selling point to match. Not only was the device streamlined in a way that suggested universal functionality to the consumer, its ambiguous name meant that it could change in style and form without parting ways from its brand. More than an MP3 player, the iPod was the first hand-held Apple product to hit the market, and it was an instant hit.

Just in time for the 2001 holiday season, Apple shipped out the first generation of iPod to the general public, forever revolutionizing the way music can be heard.  

For more specs on the history of the iPod, check out the video below.

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