On October 23, 2001 Apple Computers publicly announced their portable music digital player the iPod, created under project codename Dulcimer. The iPod was announced several months after the release of iTunes, a program that converted audio CDs into compressed digital audio files, and could organizes your digital music collection.
One man that could be named the father of the iPod is Tony Fadell. Tony Fadell was a former employee of General Magic and Phillips who wanted to invent a better MP3 player.
After being turned down by RealNetworks and Phillips, Fadell found support for his project with Apple. Tony Fadell went to work for Apple Computers in 2001 as an independent contractor, leading a team of thirty people to develop the new MP3 player.
Tony Fadell also partnered with a company called PortalPlayer who had been working on their own MP3 player to design the software for the new Apple player. Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Computers led the team that kept perfecting the iPod itself after Fadell’s team had finished their contract.
In the Wired article, Inside Look at Birth of the IPod, Ben Knauss a former senior manager at PortalPlayer revealed that Fadell was familiar with PortalPlayer’s reference designs for a couple of MP3 players, including one about the size of a cigarette packet. And though the design was unfinished, several prototypes had been built and Fadell recognized the design’s potential.
Within eight months, Tony Fadell’s team and PortalPlayer completed a prototype iPod and Apple polished the user interface adding the famous scroll wheel.
iPod – To Patent or Not to Patent
Apple Computers has so far been unable to patent the software interface of the iPod digital music player because of a prior filing by inventor John Platt, who submitted a patent application for a similar software design in May of 2002.
- Apparently, Tony Fadell is quite a character. He was once asked where he would be in life if he’d grown up before computers were invented. Fadell’s response was “In jail.”
- What was the first song played using iTunes, Apple’s proprietary software? It was a house-music dance tune called Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love).
- The first generation iPods had scroll wheels that physically rotated. Post 2003 iPods (third generation) have touch sensitive wheels. Fourth generation (2004) iPods have buttons integrated onto the wheel.
- The iPod’s wheel technology can measure changes in position greater than 1/1,000th of an inch.
What Else Has Tony Fadell Done?
Tony Fadell was involved in the development of the Apple iPod (2001*), Philips Nino PDA (1997*), Philips Velo PDA (1995*), Sony MagicLink PDA (1991*), Motorola Envoy Wireless Communicator, and Fuse Systems.