The Story of the iPod’s Evolution

If you remember the original iPod, it had a rotary dial on the front that you actually spun around to scroll through all the menus.


About six years later, we had the touchscreen iPod, which, of course led is to the iPhone.


How did we get from A to B? Tony Fadell, the Father of the iPod (sorry, Steve) explains at Venture Beat.

Tony Fadell has had a storied career in Silicon Valley. He grew up in Michigan and took to building things early, thanks to a grandfather who gave him lots of tasks — like changing electrical sockets at the age of four. He became tech savvy, moved to Silicon Valley, and got a job at General Magic, a 1990s company that was trying to beat Microsoft in operating systems and portable hardware. It failed miserably, but Fadell took his ideas for portable hardware first to Philips Electronic and then Apple.

At Apple, Steve Jobs eventually supported Fadell’s attempt to create a music device, and, later, a PC-compatible music device. And so the iPod was born. Fadell’s team created 18 versions of the iPod and helped cement Apple’s turnaround. Then he went on to lead the team that created the first three versions of the iPhone.

In 2010, he and Matt Rogers cofounded Nest Labs, which made the Nest smart thermostat. In 2014, Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion, and since early 2015, he has been leading Google’s efforts in smart glasses. Fadell now has more than 300 patents, and he wakes up early every day to exercise before heading into a day full of meetings. Las week, we attended the SV Forum Visionary Salon Dinner honoring Fadell for his many accomplishments. He was interviewed on stage by Kevin Surace, CEO of Appvance and chairman of the nonprofit SV Forum.

Here’s an edited transcript of their conversation.

Read on.

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.

5 thoughts on “The Story of the iPod’s Evolution

  • March 2, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Erm, the original iPhone *preceded* the iPod touch by 2 or so months.

    • March 2, 2016 at 11:00 am

      Really? I remember buying an iPod touch before the iPhone was announced. Regardless, the technology in the Touch was essential to the development of the iPhone.

  • March 2, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I think you’re confused because the first generation iPhone was never released in Canada. The Touch was only developed because Apple saw demand for a portable internet device without a data plan.

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