The iPod’s 20th birthday just passed and almost no one noticed.

[This was my weekly column for – AC]

In the summer of 2001, a screenwriter friend got a call from his agent. “You and your writing partner get on a plane to San Francisco. You’re scheduled for a meeting at One Infinite Loop.” Apple headquarters? What could Apple want with a couple of writers whose specialty was children’s programming?

After a short wait in the lobby, a familiar figure in a black turtleneck and jeans came up to them. “Come with me,” he ordered. Steve Jobs then ushered the two into a conference room whereupon he went into full presentation mode. “This,” he said, “is going to revolutionize everything about music.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pre-production model of the very first iPod.

Jobs told my friend and his partner that he wanted them to come up with a promotional video featuring some hand-picked world-renown artists. It would be the world’s introduction to the new device. And for the next several weeks, my friend worked on the project, often getting calls from Jobs at all times of the day and night with notes.

In the end, production and marketing schedules conspired to sink the project and the promotional video was never made. Apple was on a super-accelerated development timeline (serious work really began on the iPod in May 2001 and Apple wanted it out before Christmas). Still, my friend had a front-row seat to the launch of one of the most important pieces of consumer electronics in the history of the universe.

The first generation iPod appeared on Oct. 23, 2001, and would eventually sell somewhere near 400 million units. It not only turn Apple’s fortunes around for good but set it on the road to becoming a company worth more than US$2.5 trillion. Yet how many stories have you seen in the last couple of weeks about this important anniversary?

Keep reading.

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 38346 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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