20 years later, the iPod is still my favorite device
Age is a blessing - but it's also terrifying. Especially when I realized it had been 20 years since the iPod was launched.
As soon as I stopped hyperventilating, I realized this was okay. Why? Because the iPod changed my life. And, to this day, I believe this is the greatest device ever created.
It did not start like that, however. Before I got my hands on an iPod, I thought MP3 players were silly.
The year is 2005. I am about 16 and have been building a CD collection for several years (one I still have, shout the Marantz CD6007).
I had discarded portable CD players a few years ago, mainly because they jumped all the time and were too big to carry around - especially since I was doing manual work on the weekends.
So, around 2001, I saved up to get myself a Panasonic MP3 player.
It was a great tool - and ahead of its time - but there was a real problem: storage. It played music off an SD card and its successor was only 64MB.
In fact, this meant that I could get a little more than the value of a record of songs on it. Not particularly suitable for someone with shelves buckled under the weight of CDs.
Right now, I hear you say “BUY A LARGE SD CARD, CALLUM!”
And I tried, I did. But SD cards were terrible back in the early 2000s, especially for someone who only had a Saturday job. Accurate figures are difficult to find, but it was common for an SD card to cost around $ 3 per megabyte in 2001.
That means a 128MB SD card sent you back around $ 384. Lots of money for not much music.
So I did the same logical thing and turned to the future of music technology: minidisc.
As silly as that sounds, I made some sense in my decision. One minidisc cost about $ 3, full of 320 minutes of music, and you can transfer music from computer to it.
For a few years, my backpack was surrounded by the sound of a minidisc library.
It was at this point in my life that I first saw an iPod. It looked silly. What benefit could I, prince of minidisc, derive from a similar MP3 player sin?
Of course, this changed when I got my hands on one. It's a time I'll never forget…
I was on holiday in Spain with my family. My sister had just gotten an iPod for her birthday - and I was not worried. My minidisc obsession was fully involved and I had already tried this “malarky digital music”.
The future, I knew, was completely physical.
However, after a few days of wandering around the iPod, I became curious. I should understand why this dumb white box for people isn't really about their music, right?
So I sat on the cold stone floor of the apartment, plugged in my headphones, and my life changed.
This device - which was about the same size as my Minidisc player - was overflowing with music. Using it was so beautiful. Instead of the range of weird buttons and small screens on almost every other musical device I came across, the iPod looked stunning.
And so my love for the hardware began. The iPod Photo came out that year and I never looked back.
The huge role played by the iPod in my life is complex and progressive.
At the beginning of the millennium, I became very interested in music. I was really eating documentaries, books, magazines, or whatever I could do - and I spent every penny I had on CDs.
After getting an iPod, for the first time in my life I had full access to all my music, wherever I was.
Not only was it a tool for me to fall in love with artists, it was a tool that was by my side for some of the most turbulent years of my life. No matter what my mental health problems were, music - and my iPod - was always there.
The machine was more than a machine, it was a companion.
Of course, there is an argument to make that this is not related to the iPod itself. But I tried out several different MP3 players and, for me, none of them had the magic of the iPod.
No matter how elegant it was, the ingenuity of the click wheel, or the sheer brightness of the interface, no other device could touch it, let alone be as elegant as Apple's MP3 player.
Technically, I know it's just a bundle of wires and metal, but the iPod was so much more than that. It was a way of life, a source of joy, and even twenty years since its release, I still miss that magical little rectangle.