January 11, 2005 Steve Jobs introduces to the world the iPod shuffle, a home music player that lacks a screen. The device randomly transfers audio files it holds, but allows users to easily skip songs they don’t like.
The first iPod to use flash memory, the iPod shuffle connects directly to a computer using USB 2.0 and comes in 512 MB and 1 GB configurations. Oh, and it’s smaller than a pack of chewing gum – and weighs less than an ounce!
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iPod shuffle: Joy at random
Playing songs in random order doesn’t sound that innovative today. In fact, when the iPod first made waves, cultural critics stumbled upon each other to talk about how iTunes and the iPod forever disrupted the tyranny of the album. Suddenly, there was no set way to listen to your songs.
Previous iPods came with a random play function, which inspired commendable essays in everything from The New Yorker to The Guardian.
Michael Bull, a professor of sound studies, said the regime had randomly turned the iPod into “Aladdin’s Cave of Sound Surprises.” Journalist Steven Levy even published his book on the iPod celebration, The perfect thing: how the iPod mixes commerce, culture and the cold, with chapters in random order to reflect the feature.
IPod loses screen
From Apple’s perspective, building an iPod shuffle around such a feature at random solved a big problem: how to reduce the iPod to a point where the display wouldn’t make any sense? The bold decision to give up the iPod display proved Apple’s willingness to take risks in the name of progress and minimalism.
However, this did not go without problems. Some users’ first-generation iPod shuffles stopped working and flashed orange and green – no display to explain the problem. The documentation only suggested that an “error” had occurred. This meant that users had to take their devices to the Apple store instead of solving the problem themselves.
Still, the iPod shuffle has become a big hit for Apple. At the peak of production in 2005, Asus’ Apple supplier factory produced 100,000 units per day. Prices ranged from $ 99 to $ 149. That brought the iPod – which cost a minimum of $ 400 in 2001 – to a whole new customer base.
Did you own a first generation iPod shuffle? What’s your favorite iPod in history? Leave your comments below.
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