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This article was published on October 25, 2021

Feast your eyes on this ‘prototype’ of the original iPod

The chonkiest chonkster

Feast your eyes on this ‘prototype’ of the original iPod
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

Over the weekend, the Apple iPod turned 20. To honor this, we created a deluge of content, including vox pops, how it got us through war, and comparing it to the Zune.

But it wasn’t just us getting involved in this celebration. The folks over at Panic gave us all another gift: a glimpse at a prototype of the original iPod. Take a look at this beauty:

prototype original ipod 1
You can see all the elements of the iPod here, from the click wheel, to the buttons, and the screen.

What’s breathtaking about this prototype iPod here is the size of the damn thing. Have a look at it alongside the finished product:

prototype original ipod comparison
Teensy-weensy in comparison. Oh, and btw, the folks at Panic said they had this prototype iPod in their closet. Wish I had a closet like that.

Now, did you notice that in the headline for this piece, I put “prototype” in quotes? Well, that’s because what we’re seeing above isn’t quite a prototype. Effectively, what we’re looking at are the guts of the original iPod in something called a “non-enclosure device.”

Let’s have a look inside this big plastic box for some more context:

prototype original ipod internals
HOT.

As you can see, there’s a lot of empty space in the enclosure. The date on there is also interesting: September 3, 2001. That’s less than two months before the launch of the original iPod. A curious combination of facts.

Thankfully, Tony Fadell (inventor of the iPod and co-inventor of the iPhone) shined some light on it.

In other words, this prototype allowed people to work on the software of the original iPod without the danger of its outward appearance being leaked.

Well, I hope you took as much joy as me from seeing this prototype of the original iPod. Now, back to dreaming of what a modern version of Apple’s MP3 player would be like

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