Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: Why do we call it an “iPod” part 2

Here’s the second part of our brief history of the iPod. (Part one is here.)

It was introduced to the public on October 23, 2001.  But “iPod” isn’t a word that really describes the product or what it does.  Who came up with that word and that name?  It seems to have originated with a guy named Vinnie Chieco, a freelancer who was hired by Apple for the rollout of the device in the fall of 2001. 

For whatever reason, he thought back to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey when doomed astronaut David Bowman ordered Hal, the wonky computer, to “open the pod bay doors.” 

And if you know what? Those pods did kinda look like the new Apple device.

So far, so good.  But then Apple discovered that a guy from New Jersey named Joseph N. Grasso had already trademarked the name for a line of Internet kiosks that went back to 1998.  But Apple cut a deal with Mr. Grasso–and the rest is history.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38308 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Ongoing History Daily: Why do we call it an “iPod” part 2

  • Hi. I just came across this and thought I’d add a little background. The “Pod” of iPod does have the link you suggest to the movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the term was already on the list I was generating when coming up with “things that are small that have smaller things inside of them”. As in a pea pod. The movie came to mind afterward when I saw that striking white prototype. It’s hard to imagine now how unusual it was back then for a computer accessory to be SO white. So, I guess the combination of technology, futuristic and whiteness, transported me back to the HAL controlled spaceship and Dave’s repeated requests of “Open the pod bay doors, HAL.” Between the very logical link to a pea pod and the Sci-Fi pop culture link to the movie, it seemed pretty good. But the metaphor of having a pod-like device dependent upon a mothership (the computer) that could leave and go on its own adventures but had to come back and “dock” to replenish supplies (songs) and refuel (charge) is what I liked best. Steve Jobs really warmed to the name due to the metaphor. Though I think he was also tickled by the karma of having the launch of another product be linked to an iconic Sci-Fi work of art, like when Orwell’s 1984 was used to launch Macintosh. Anyway, like I said. I came across this and thought I’d add some context.


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.