Happy 15th Birthday, iPod!

Fifteen years ago this week, Apple released the original iPod, and the tech and music world changed forever. Here’s a look at the important iPod models released over the years.

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  • Apple MKMV2LL/A iPod Nano 16 GB, Pink

    MSRP $149.00
    on Amazon

A visual history of Apple's iPod

Fifteen years ago this week, Apple released the original iPod, and the tech and music world was never the same.

The iPod wasn’t an immediate hit, but it eventually helped kick-start the digital music revolution. In addition to changing the way the world listened to and eventually would buy music, the iPod helped transform Apple into a force to be reckoned with in the tech world.

The iPod has since become somewhat obsolete thanks to the iPhone, but for a good six to seven years, Apple was practically defined by various permutations of its iconic mp3 player.

In honor of the iPod turning 15, we’ve put together a comprehensive list detailing all of the more important iPod models ever released, all the way from the clunky original to the minuscule iPod Shuffle—and everything in between.

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Original iPod

Originally launched in October of 2001, the original iPod wasn’t entirely well received by critics and the public at large. Indeed, Apple getting into the mp3 player space was seen as a curious if not boneheaded decision. Of course, the iPod’s success would eventually prove all of the doubters wrong. When the original iPod first hit store shelves, it had 5GB of storage and cost $399.

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Second-generation iPod

Less than a year after releasing the original iPod, Apple released a second-generation model that had greater storage capacity and a more intuitive user experience thanks to a touch-sensitive scroll wheel. More important, Apple’s second-gen iPod was compatible with Windows, paving the way for sales to truly skyrocket.

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Third-generation iPod

Released in early 2003, Apple’s third-generation iPod featured touch-sensitive buttons located between the display and the scroll wheel. This iPod is particularly notable because it was released alongside the iTunes Music Store, thus allowing users to load up their devices with purchased music online. It’s also worth mentioning that Apple’s third-generation iPod featured a USB connector, meaning that the same iPod could work just as well with OS X as it could with Windows.

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iPod Mini

About a year later, Apple introduced its first miniaturized iPod model, a device it called the iPod Mini. The iPod Mini came in an assortment of five colors and was significant insofar as it introduced us to the click wheel and a new anodized aluminum shell design. At launch, the iPod Mini cost $250 and quickly became a resounding success.

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Fourth-generation iPod

Released in July 2004, Apple’s fourth-generation iPod is arguably the most iconic iPod design of all time. Hardly a coincidence, the design would eventually go on to be called the iPod Classic. At launch, a 20GB model fourth-generation iPod retailed for $299, while a 40GB model retailed for $399.

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iPod Photo

In October of 2004, the iPod extended beyond music and embraced photos. A variant of the fourth-generation iPod, Apple’s iPod Photo allowed users to export pictures from their computer to their iPod for later viewing.

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iPod Shuffle

Looking to dominate the mp3 player market, Apple in early 2005 released the iPod Shuffle. The strategy behind the shuffle was brilliant, as it lured in music lovers looking for a more affordable mp3 player option. Additionally, the diminutive size of the shuffle made it appealing for users looking for a lightweight music-listening solution. The iPod Shuffle, as was clearly evident from the device itself, had no screen and was designed to be worn around one’s neck with a lanyard.

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iPod Mini 2

Released in February 2005, the iPod Mini 2 offered users a new variety of colors while also serving up more storage and battery life. Notably, battery life on the iPod Mini 2, relative to the original, increased from eight hours to 18 hours.

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iPod Nano

The iPod Nano hit the scene in September of 2005. The release was arguably a bold risk for Apple because it replaced the exceedingly popular iPod Mini. The iPod Nano was super slim and was flash-based for added reliability. Looking back, most people remember the iPod Nano as a device that scratched incredibly easily. Battery life on the device was pretty solid with 14 hours of music playback.

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Video iPod

Also released in September of 2005, Apple’s video iPod marked an incredible change to Apple’s iPod line. As the name implied, the video iPod came with a 2.5-in. screen with a 320x240 resolution that could ably play TV shows, movies and music videos, all accessible from Apple’s ever-growing iTunes Store. At launch, Apple’s video iPod was available in 30GB and 60GB variants.

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iPod Nano 2

The iPod Nano 2 sported an aluminum-based design, thereby removing the complaints about scratching that plagued the original. Featuring a 1.5-in. display, the second-generation iPod Nano was available in an assortment of colors and featured jaw-dropping battery life that checked in at 24 hours. 

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iPod Shuffle 2

The iPod Shuffle 2 was released and touted as the smallest and most wearable mp3 player in the world. What made this iPod special was that it came with a clip that made it easy to attach to one’s shirt or pants. In turn, it became a popular device for people while working out.

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iPod Touch

The original iPhone showed us what a widescreen iPod with touch controls looked like, and a few months after the iPhone launched, Apple rolled out the iPod Touch. Equipped with the ability to play music, browse the web via Wi-Fi and, of course, download all sorts of media content, the iPod Touch took Apple’s iPod line to the next level.

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iPod Nano 3

Dubbed the “Fat iPod” on account of its wider design, the iPod Nano 3 was available in five colors and featured a larger display that made it a suitable device for watching video in a pinch. It was released in September of 2007.

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iPod Classic

Also released in 2007, the iPod Classic was designed for music lovers, as it initially came in two impressively large storage tiers: 80GB and 160GB. The iPod Classic was a beloved device for many years, but it was ultimately discontinued in 2014.

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iPod Nano 4th generation

Sporting a complete redesign, the fourth-generation iPod Nano was longer and narrower than its predecessor. At launch, it was available in nine "nano-chromatic" colors, had the ability to play video and, thanks to an accelerometer, was able to play video in landscape mode.

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iPod Shuffle 3

Released in March of 2009, the third-generation iPod Shuffle was extremely small and utilized VoiceOver technology to allow users to play specific songs, artists, albums and playlists via a built-in microphone. 

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iPod Nano 5th generation

Apple’s fifth-generation iPod Nano added a few new wrinkles to the iPod line, including a video camera, an FM radio along and a built-in pedometer. It was originally unveiled during an Apple special media event on Sept. 9, 2009.

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iPod Shuffle 4

In September 2010, Apple introduced its fourth-generation iPod Shuffle that closely resembled the second-generation design.

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iPod Nano 6th generation

Introduced in September of 2010 as well, the sixth-generation iPod Nano was notable because it had a completely redesigned form factor that was a square design with a multi-touch sensitive display. Though perhaps not Apple’s intention, some fans of the device affixed it to watchbands and used the device as a pseudo-watch.

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iPod Touch 4th generation

Released in 2011, Apple’s fourth-generation iPod Touch featured a Retina Display, a larger 4-in. display, faster internals, an HD camera on the back and a FaceTime camera on the front.

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iPod Nano 7th generation

Unveiled during a special media event in 2012, Apple’s seventh-generation iPod Nano was incredibly thin (just 5.4mm), featured incredible battery life and incorporated support for Bluetooth streaming. Notably, it was the first iPod Nano to feature Apple’s Lightning connector.

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  • Apple iPod Touch 64GB Gold (6th Generation)

    MSRP $297.00
    on Amazon

iPod Touch 5th generation

Released in 2012, this iPod was most notable for coming with a loop that users could attach a lanyard around their wrists with for extra security. It was a bizarre design that Apple ultimately did away with.