RIP iPod: A look back at Apple’s iconic music player through the years

Apple announced earlier this week Shutting down iPod touchand as it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its expiration marks the end of the entire iPod line.

To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the past 21 years.

Original iPod (2001)

Introduced in October 2001, the original iPod was touted as a device that puts 1,000 songs in your pocket. It has become one of Apple’s most iconic and well-known products, and is one of the devices responsible for Apple’s skyrocketing return to success.

iPod 2001

The original iPod offered a hard drive with 5 GB of storage space and a scroll wheel that physically rotates, and it remains the only iPod with this design. It also featured a FireWire port to connect to a Mac and sold for $399. Apple followed the original iPod with a nearly identical second-generation model in 2002 that featured a capacitive-sensing touch wheel with click buttons on the sides, and a third-generation model added an even more refined touch wheel with buttons above. The third generation iPod also added a Dock Connector.

third generation ipod

With the fourth generation model released in 2004, Apple introduced the Click Wheel, an iteration of the Touch Wheel that also incorporated the buttons. The fourth generation model is notable because Apple has continued to use the Click Wheel for years.

ipod 4th generation click wheel

The iPod photo with its color display followed the fourth generation model later in 2004, and Apple extended the color display to all models in 2005 with the iPod with color display. Both of these were considered part of the fourth generation lineup.

ipod color

Apple added video capabilities in 2005 with the fifth generation iPod, and it was also the first iPod that came in black aside from the black and red U2 special edition iPod.

ipod u2

After the iPod video, Apple introduced the iPod classic, and several versions were released in 2007, 2008, and 2009, all similar in design. The 2009 iPod classic was Apple’s last iPod at this size, and it featured a 160 GB hard drive, click wheel, and large color display. He remained until he was arrested in 2014.

classic ipod views

iPod mini (2004)

Apple’s first iPod mini was released in 2004, and it was much smaller than the standard iPod. It came in several fun colors that include yellow, blue, pink, and gold, and it had a standard click wheel.

ipod mini 2005

The iPod mini didn’t last long, and although there was a second generation version in 2005, it was later discontinued in favor of the iPod nano.

iPod nano (2005)

Replacing the iPod mini, the iPod nano is one of Apple’s most interesting iPods due to the many major design iterations it has seen over the years.


Apple started with a slim, aluminum-colored iPod with a click wheel, color screen, and flash memory that allowed Apple to downsize. The nano was replaced in 2006 by the second generation version which had more rounded edges, a smaller form factor, and bright aluminum colors.


For the third-generation iPod nano released in 2007, Apple went in an entirely different direction, and this nano was colloquially known as the “fat” iPod nano. It had a wider, chunkier body with a wider screen, and it came in multiple color options.


The fat nano only lasted a year before being replaced by the once again slimmed down fourth-generation iPod nano, which came in a whole rainbow of colors. It has a bigger screen, a curved front and an accelerometer for the “Shake” function that lets you shake an iPod to shuffle songs.

iPod nano 4

Apple’s 2009 fifth-generation iPod nano was similar to the fourth-generation model, but had a larger screen and it gained a camera and microphone. It also came in glossier colors, but Apple kept the wide array of color options.


The nano got a major design overhaul in 2010 with the sixth-generation version which was just a screen in a square-shaped body. It used a multi-touch screen instead of a click wheel, and it was the version people attached watch straps to, making it a precursor to the Apple Watch.

ipod nano 6th generation watch strap

Apple changed the design in 2012 with the seventh-generation iPod nano, returning to the rectangular shape but leaving the multi-touch screen in place. The nano of that era looked like a smaller iPod touch, with a Home button and support for multiple apps. The seven-generation iPod nano got new colors in 2015 before in the process of stopping in 2017.

ipod nano colors

iPod shuffle (2005)

Apple’s first iPod shuffle was introduced in 2005 before the second-generation iPod mini, and it looked a lot like a AppleTV Remote. It was Apple’s first iPod without a screen, with nothing but a control pad to reduce size, and it also doubled as a flash drive.

ipod shuffle anniversary wikimedia commons

The second-generation iPod shuffle got a major redesign in 2006, and Apple shrunk it to about half the size of the original and added a belt clip. It was advertised as the world’s smallest MP3 player at the time, and there was even a small iPod shuffle dock to charge it through the headphone jack. It launched in silver, but eventually Apple offered additional colors like pink, blue, green, and orange.

ipod shuffle 2nd generation

The iPod shuffle received a further redesign in 2009, with Apple adding a voice feature that lets it speak song and album names aloud using text-to-speech vocal. This is the model where Apple has done away with on-device controls, instead using headphones with an attached remote for playback.

ipod shuffle 3rd generation

In 2010, Apple decided that no control over the device was a bad idea, introducing the fourth-generation iPod shuffle. The fourth-generation model was the last iPod shuffle, featuring bold colors, a smaller chassis, and the return of the Control Pad.

ipod shuffle range 2015

The iPod Shuffle received no other design updates, although Apple introduced new colors in 2015. It was eventually arrested in 2017.

iPod touch (2007)

The first iPod touch was released in 2007 alongside the iPhone, and it was a more affordable ‌iPhone‌ alternative that lacked cellular capabilities. It looked a lot like an ‌iPhone‌ with a 3.5-inch multi-touch screen, and it came with WiFi support, Safari integration, and apps like YouTube, Mail, Maps, and Weather.

Original iPod touch

The second and third generation iPod touch models had the same design, but when the ‌iPhone‌ 4 was released in 2010, Apple also redesigned the iPod touch to have a similar look. It included a front FaceTime camera, a rear camera, and iMessage support, plus it came in black or white.

ipod touch 2011

Apple redesigned the iPod touch again in 2012, and the fifth generation model had a larger screen and thinner body, and it was the first iPod touch to come in bold colors. It came out with the ‌iPhone‌ 5 as a handheld with an A5 chip.

ipod touch 5 colors

After the fifth generation iPod touch, the design did not change, but Apple introduced a sixth generation model in 2017 and a seventh generation model in 2019, both with updated chips. After the 2019 release of the seventh-generation iPod touch, the device went without an update for three years until it was discontinued earlier this week.

iPod Touch 2 background feature

iPod Replacements

Apple said it decided to discontinue the iPod lineup because iPod capabilities are now built into all Apple devices, from the ‌iPhone‌ to the iPad on Mac, ‌Apple TV‌, HomePodand Apple Watch.

iPod touch stopped

Almost all modern Apple devices support the Apple Music service introduced by Apple in 2015, and it is also available on the web, Android devices, etc., making the iPod superfluous. Apple is selling the iPod touch while supplies last, but it’s already sold out in the USA.

You may still be able to find an iPod touch from a third-party retailer, but be sure to act fast as they sell out quickly as people aim to get one of the latest iPods available.

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