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The evolution of the Apple iPod, from the 'scroll wheel' to the Shuffle, Nano, and Touch

Submitted by Tech Insider on May 14, 2022 - 4:00am

The original Apple iPod and the iPod touch (7th generation).
The original Apple iPod and the iPod touch (7th generation).


  • Apple plans to stop selling the iPod.
  • The music player was launched in 2001, with various versions following over the next two decades.
  • Insider takes a look at the evolution of the iPod, which has has sold more than 450 million units.

Apple is calling time on the iPod, the tech giant announced this week.

The MP3 player was the first that could hold 1,000 songs and helped revolutionize the way people listened to and bought music.

Since its release in 2001, Apple has launched various versions of the device, including the Shuffle, Nano and Touch.

About 450 million iPods have been sold in the past two decades, according to a New York Times report citing the venture capital firm Loup Ventures. 

In a blog post, Apple said the iPod touch was still available "while supplies last." 

Take a look at some of the models that have been released over the past two decades.

Apple's first iPod was launched in 2001 and featured a scroll wheel surrounded by four buttons. The iPod was revealed by then-CEO, Steve Jobs, with the slogan "1,000 songs in your pocket."
The first generation iPod launched in 2001.
Apple's first iPod was launched in 2001.

The iPod had a "suggested retail price" of $399. Between 2002 and 2004, three more versions were introduced, including models with a touch wheel, click wheel and dock connector.
A new iPod on display at the Apple Store in Emeryville, California, in 2003.
A new iPod on display at an Apple Store in Emeryville, California, in 2003.

In 2004, Apple introduced the iPod Special Edition U2 after partnering with the Irish band. Different versions of the U2 edition were introduced between 2004 and 2006. The special edition model had a red wheel and black coating.
The iPod Special Edition U2.
The iPod Special Edition U2.

The iPod Special Edition U2 also had the signatures of the band's members on the back.
The iPod Special Edition U2 featured the signatures of U2 band members on the case.
The iPod Special Edition U2 featured the signatures of U2 members on the case.

The iPod mini, launched in 2004, was the first to come in a range of bright colors. It could also hold 1,000 songs despite being considerably smaller than the original version. A second generation iPod mini was introduced the following year.
The iPod mini.
The iPod mini.

The fifth generation iPod was also launched in 2005 and was the first device to offer video. It could hold up to 15,000 songs, 25,000 photos or more than 150 hours of videos.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds the new iPod playing an episode of "Desperate Housewives" in October 2005.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds the new iPod playing an episode of "Desperate Housewives" in October 2005.

The iPod shuffle made its debut later in 2005. The first without a display screen, Apple described the device as "smaller and lighter than a pack of chewing gum."
Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the iPod Shuffle in 2005.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the iPod Shuffle in 2005.

The model was based on — and named after — Apple's "shuffle" feature, which would play a random selection of songs from any user's iTunes library. Priced at less than $100, the iPod Shuffle was also Apple's cheapest device yet.
The iPod shuffle at the Apple Store at Crystal Court, Costa Mesa in 2005.
The iPod Shuffle at the Apple Store at Crystal Court, Costa Mesa in 2005.

Between 2005 and 2015, three more generations of the iPod Shuffle were introduced.
The iPod shuffle (4th generation) was introduced in 2015.
The iPod Shuffle (4th generation) was introduced in 2015.

Later versions of the Shuffle were smaller than the original. Each featured a control pad and had 2 gigabytes of storage. The fourth generation iPod Shuffle also featured a VoiceOver button where song titles, playlist names and battery life could be heard.
Apple CEO holds up an iPod Shuffle in 2006.
Steve Jobs holds up an iPod Shuffle in 2006.

The first iPod Nano was unveiled in 2005. The device could hold up to 1,000 songs and was "thinner than a standard #2 pencil," according to Apple. The nano cost up to $249 for a 4 gigabyte version.
Apple unveils the iPod Nano at a news conference in Tokyo in 2005.
Apple unveils the iPod Nano at a news conference in Tokyo in 2005.

Between 2005 and 2015, Apple released seven versions of the Nano that came in six colors and could hold up to 2,000 songs.
The iPod nano (2nd generation), which was launched in 2006.
The iPod Nano (2nd generation) was launched in 2006.

The seventh generation Nano, unveiled in 2012, was the thinnest iPod yet at just 5.4 millimeters. It also featured a 2.5-inch multi-touch display.
The iPod Nano (7th generation).
The iPod Nano (7th generation).

The iPod Touch was introduced in 2007. It was the first iPod to use a multi-touch interface previously used in the first iPhone, which made its debut earlier that year.
The iPod touch was first introduced in September 2007.
The iPod Touch was first introduced in September 2007.

The Touch was also the first iPod to use Wi-Fi so users could browse the internet, for example.
The iPod touch at its introduction in San Francisco, California, in 2007.
The iPod Touch at its launch in San Francisco, California, in 2007.

Seven generations of the iPod Touch were launched by Apple. The fourth generation was the first to include FaceTime video calls.
An Apple employee holds a new iPod touch in San Francisco, California, in September 2010.
The iPod Touch in San Francisco in September 2010.

The fifth generation iPod Touch was the first to come in a range of colors.
The 5th generation iPod touch in October 2012.
The 5th generation iPod Touch in October 2012.

The most recent - and final - version arrived in 2019. The seventh generation iPod touch had features for group FaceTime calls and cost up to $399.
The iPod touch (7th generation) launched in May 2019.
The most recent - and last - iPod Touch was launched in May 2019.

The iPod has also had several famous users. In 2009, then-President Barack Obama gave Queen Elizabeth II an iPod that featured songs and videos of her 2007 visit to the US.
Former US President, Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama, meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in April 2009.
President Barack Obama and First Lady, Michelle Obama, meet Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in April 2009.

Kanye West with an iPod at an Elle magazine party in New York in 2005.
Kanye West poses with an iPod at ELLE Magazine's 21st Birthday VIP Bash in 2005.
Kanye West with an iPod in 2005.

Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo was pictured listening to a fourth generation iPod Shuffle in 2020, about a decade after the device was first released.
Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at the Allianz Stadium, Turin, listening to an iPod shuffle in January 2020.
Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at the Allianz Stadium in Turin listening to an iPod Shuffle in January 2020.

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