In short: Not to make anyone feel old or anything, but the iPod turned 20 over the weekend. Apple’s portable MP3 player was first released on October 23, 2001. To celebrate the iPod’s birthday, maker Playdate Panic released what it says are images of “the original early iPod prototype.”
Panic said it didn’t know where the prototype came from and didn’t elaborate on how it came from. received old device. However, iPod inventor Tony Fadell has confirmed that it is indeed a prototype iPod called the P68 / Dulcimer.
This is a prototype iPod P68 / Dulcimer that we (very quickly) made before its true form factor was ready. Didn’t want it to look like an iPod for privacy – button layout, size – there was mostly air inside – and the wheel worked (bad) https://t.co/qeNMHMmVsc
– Tony Fadell (@tfadell) October 23, 2021
The device is large, clunky, and appears to still be in working order, though admittedly not working as well. But how high are your expectations for a 20-year-old prototype prototype? The screen is still working, the buttons are working fine, but the scroll wheel is working “badly”. Fadell admitted that they put together the prototype “very quickly.”
Indeed, the part that houses the display is tagged September 3, 2001, meaning that Fadell and his team probably put together the prototype less than two months before the final product was released.
When you open the case, you will find that there is mostly empty space inside. In fact, the rudimentary design almost looks like the internals of the final device were attached to some large plastic buttons and a very simple PCB used to mate all the components. Apple deliberately opted for a large body and clunky controls to hide the iPod’s final design.
“Didn’t want it to look like an iPod for privacy. [sic]Fadell tweeted.
Despite a stream of seemingly endless leaks lately, Apple has long been hiding its unreleased products even among its internal developers. Another example of the Cupertino-based company hiding its future products is the Apple Watch prototype unveiled last year. Brian Merchant’s book One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone. recounts how Apple even kept the engineers of its original iPhone isolated and in the dark as to what they were developing.
When you fondly remember using your first iPod, imagine what it would have been like trying to introduce the product to someone using an ugly prototype like the P68 / Dulcimer. This is not something you can imagine to change the way people listen to music.
Image Credit: Panic