|Manufacturer Apple Inc.|
Retail availability 2001–2014
|Type Portable media player|
Discontinued September 9, 2014
|Media 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, 120 or 160 GB hard drive|
The iPod Classic (stylized and marketed as iPod classic and formerly just iPod) is a portable media player created and formerly marketed by Apple Inc.
- User interface
- Operating system and firmware
- Additional features
- 1st generation
- 2nd generation
- 3rd generation
- 4th generation
- iPod Photo
- iPod with color display
- 5th generation
- 6th generation
There were six generations of the iPod Classic, as well as a spin-off (the iPod Photo) that was later re-integrated into the main iPod line. All generations used a 1.8-inch (46 mm) hard drive for storage. The "classic" suffix was formally introduced with the rollout of the sixth-generation iPod on September 5, 2007. Prior to this, all iPod Classic models were simply referred to as iPods. It was available in silver or black replacing the "signature iPod white".
On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the iPod Classic. The sixth-generation 160GB iPod Classic was the last Apple product in the iPod line to use the original 30-pin iPod connector and the iconic Click Wheel.
iPods with color displays use anti-aliased graphics and text, with sliding animations. All iPods have five buttons and the later generations (4th and above) have the buttons integrated into the click wheel — a design which gives an uncluttered, minimalist interface, though the circuitry contains multiple momentary button switches. The buttons are:
Operating system and firmware
The iPod's operating system is stored on its dedicated storage medium. An additional NOR flash ROM chip (either 1 MB or 512 KB) contains a bootloader program that tells the device to load its OS from the storage medium. Each iPod also has 32 MB of RAM, although the 60GB and 80GB fifth generation, and the sixth-generation models have 64 MB. A portion of the RAM is used to hold the iPod OS loaded from firmware, but the majority of it serves to cache songs from the storage medium. For example, an iPod could spin its hard disk up once and copy approximately 30 MB of upcoming songs into RAM, thus saving power by not requiring the drive to spin up for each song. Custom firmware has also been developed such as Rockbox (up to 6G - 6G requires emCORE) and iPodLinux (up to 5G) which offer open-source alternatives to the standard firmware and operating system.
In March 2002, Apple added limited PDA-like functionality: text files can be displayed, while contacts and schedules can be viewed and synchronized with the host computer. Some built-in games are available, including Brick (a clone of Breakout), Parachute, Solitaire, and Music Quiz. A firmware update released in September 2006 brought some extra features to fifth-generation iPods including adjustable screen brightness, gapless playback, and downloadable games. However, as of September 30, 2011, these games are no longer available on the iTunes Store.
Apple introduced the first-generation iPod (M8541) on October 23, 2001, with the slogan "1,000 songs in your pocket". They went on sale on November 10, 2001. The first iPod had a black and white LCD (liquid-crystal display) screen and featured a 5GB hard drive capable of storing 1,000 songs encoded using MP3 and was priced at US$399. Among the iPod's innovations were its small size, achieved using a 1.8" hard drive, whereas its competitors were using 2.5" hard drives at the time, and its easy-to-use navigation, which was controlled using a mechanical scroll wheel (unlike later iPods, which had touch-sensitive scroll wheels), a center select button, and four auxiliary buttons around the wheel. The iPod had a rated battery life of ten hours.
On March 20, 2002, Apple introduced a 10GB model of the first-generation iPod for US$499. VCard compatibility was added, as well as allowing iPods to display business card information synced from a Mac.
The second-generation of the iPod was introduced on July 17, 2002. Using a similar body style as the first generation, the top of the iPod was redesigned, switching from a single swooping cutout in the back plate to mount the firewire port, hold switch and headphone assembly, to individual ports being cut into the back plate to allow these ports to be accessed. Furthermore, the hold switch was redesigned, a cover was added to the FireWire port, and the mechanical wheel was replaced with a touch-sensitive wheel. The second-generation class was available in 10GB for US$399 and 20GB for US$499. The first-generation 5GB iPod was carried over, but its price was reduced to US$299.
Notably, the second-generation iPods and the updated first-generation iPod were now Windows-compatible. These versions came with a 4-pin to 6-pin FireWire adapter and were bundled with Musicmatch Jukebox. At that time iTunes was Mac only and unavailable for Windows.
In December 2002, Apple unveiled its first limited edition iPods, with either Madonna’s, Tony Hawk’s, or Beck’s signature or No Doubt's band logo engraved on the back for an extra US$50.
On April 29, 2003, Apple announced a completely redesigned third-generation iPod. Thinner than the previous models, the third-generation models replaced the FireWire port with a new Dock Connector and introduced the Touch Wheel, a completely non-mechanical interface with the four auxiliary buttons located in a row between the screen and the touch wheel. The front plate had rounded edges, and the rear casing was slightly rounded as well. A new wired remote connector was introduced. Whereas first and second-generation iPods had an auxiliary ring around the headphone port for the remote, the third-generation iPods had a 4-pin jack adjacent to the headphone port. A 10GB model was sold for US$299, a 15GB model for US $399, and a 30GB model for US $499. All iPods were now compatible with Mac and Windows out of the box, was simply requiring Windows users to reformat the iPod before use on a PC and both iTunes and MUSICMATCH Jukebox were bundled with all iPods. The battery life was reduced to 8 hours, partially due to the use of a lithium-ion battery as opposed to a lithium polymer battery.
The 15GB model was replaced by a 20GB model and the 30GB model was upgraded to 40 GB on September 8, 2003. The Windows-based MUSICMATCH Jukebox software was made obsolete and replaced by iTunes 4.1, the first version available for Microsoft Windows.
Announced on July 19, 2004, the fourth-generation iPod replaced the touch wheel from the third-generation iPod with the Click Wheel from the iPod Mini, putting the four auxiliary buttons underneath a touch-sensitive scroll wheel. The casing was also slightly slimmer. Pricing was reduced and the lineup was simplified, as the 20GB model was sold for US$299 and the 40GB model for US$399. Notably, Apple began reducing pack-in accessories starting with the fourth generation. While a dock, carrying case, and wired remote were previously included with higher-end iPods, the higher-level 40GB iPod only came with a dock, earphones and an interchangeable proprietary cable capable of USB and FireWire interface. In addition to using the iPod Mini's Click Wheel, the fourth-generation iPod used the more energy-efficient components of the Mini, allowing the fourth-generation iPod to over 12 hours of battery life while using the same battery as its predecessor.
A special U2 edition was announced on October 26, 2004, to cross-market U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album. The plastic front piece of the U2 edition iPod was black and the scroll wheel was red, to coincide with the color scheme of the U2 album. With 20 GB and the signatures of all four members of U2, the special edition iPod was priced at US$349 and also included a US$50 coupon for a US$149 collection of U2's entire back catalog. U2 iPod customers also received 30 minutes of exclusive U2 video downloadable from the iTunes® Music Store.
A Special Harry Potter Edition was announced on September 7, 2005. It was released in conjunction with the Harry Potter Audiobooks in iTunes. It had a Hogwarts logo engraved on the back, and all six Harry Potter audio books which were available at the time preloaded.
On October 26, 2004, in addition to the U2 edition, Apple also unveiled the iPod Photo. Positioned as a premium version of the standard fourth-generation iPod, the iPod Photo featured a 220x176 pixel LCD capable of displaying up to 65,536 colors. The device supported JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF, and PNG graphic file formats, and could be attached to a television or other external display for slideshows, thanks to a bundled TV cable. Using iTunes 4.7, users could sync photos from a folder, from Apple's iPhoto on the Macintosh, Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 or Photoshop Elements 3.0 on Windows. Battery life was rated 15 hours for music playback and 5 hours for slideshows with music. The iPod Photo was available in a 40GB version for US$499 and a 60GB version for US$599.
On February 23, 2005, both 40GB models (photo and regular) were replaced with a slimmer and lower-priced (US$349) 30GB photo model leaving only a 20GB black-and-white iPod left. The price for the 60GB model was dropped to US$449 with fewer bundled accessories, making the dock, FireWire cable, and television cable extra-cost options. On the same day, Apple announced the iPod Camera Connector which allowed instant transfer of images from a USB-compatible digital camera to the iPod Photo. The main difference between this and Belkin's Digital Camera Link was that Apple's unit supported instant image viewing on the iPod Photo after transfer without having to connect the iPod Photo to a computer first.
iPod with color display
On June 28, 2005, just nine months after its introduction, the iPod Photo was merged with the rest of the iPod line. The 30GB model was dropped, and the 20GB monochrome iPod received a color screen. The price for the 60GB model was also dropped to US$399.
The fifth-generation iPod was introduced on October 12, 2005, shortly after the introduction of the iPod Nano. The fifth-generation iPod featured a 2.5" 320x240 QVGA screen and a smaller Click Wheel. It was the first iPod to be able to play videos.
The fifth-generation iPod is the first iPod to be available in an alternative color scheme in a non-special-edition form, as a black option was added alongside "Signature iPod White", and marked the second full redesign of the iPod's aesthetic with its re-arranged proportions, its return to a fully flat front plate, and its more rounded rear casing. The 4-pin remote port was removed as well, causing backwards compatibility issues with certain accessories. A 30GB model was offered for US$299 and a 60GB model was offered for US$399. The fifth-generation iPod was also offered in the U2 special edition for US$349 with 30 GB. The fifth-generation iPod was the last model to have a glass face.
The fifth-generation iPod plays video in MP4 (up to 2.5 Mbit/s) and H.264 (up to 768 kbit/s, baseline profile only) formats. The fifth-generation enhance iPod and or 1st revision plays video in MP4 (up to 2.5 Mbit/s) and H.264 (up to 1.5 Mbit/s, baseline profile only) formats. Video such as TV shows, podcasts, music videos, and movies may be purchased from online stores such as the iTunes Store, or downloaded from Google Video and other sources, then imported to the iPod via iTunes software.
Videos or photo slideshows may be played from the fifth-generation iPod on a television set, projector or monitor with the use of the Apple iPod AV cable or via a dock using an S-Video cable. It is also possible to do this using some camcorder cables with an RCA connection at one end and a three-banded eighth-inch (3.5 mm) A/V plug at the other, although the red and yellow plugs (normally the audio right and video signals respectively) must be swapped around in order to achieve the correct signal.
The fifth-generation iPod was updated on September 12, 2006, colloquially referred to as "5.5th generation". This update included a brighter screen, longer video playback time, newly designed earphones and a search feature. An iTunes installation CD was also no longer bundled, requiring users to download iTunes from Apple's website. The 60GB model was replaced with an 80GB model, and prices were cut by US$50 for both the 30GB (US$249) and the 80GB (US$349) models. Gapless playback and support for iPod games was enabled on all fifth-generation iPods through a firmware update released at the same time.
During a special iPod-centric event on September 5, 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the sixth-generation iPod and the suffix "classic". Featuring slightly thinner bodies, the sixth-generation iPod also had dramatically improved battery life, claiming up to 36 hours of music playback and 6 hours of video playback. The iPod Classic has a 2.5" backlit display at a resolution of 320x240. The front plate of the iPod is now made of anodized aluminium instead of polycarbonate plastic, and "Signature iPod White" has been replaced by silver. This marks the first time white is not available as a color option for an iPod. The sixth-generation iPod also introduced a completely overhauled user interface, incorporating more graphics and Cover Flow. The iPod Classic was offered in an 80GB model for MSRP US$249 and a 160GB model for MSRP US$349.
During the 'Let's Rock' Apple Event on September 9, 2008, the 80GB and the thicker 160GB model were discontinued in favor of a thin 120GB version retailing for US$249. It introduced Genius and audio recording capabilities which are also available in other iPod models released at similar times; no firmware update provides either feature to the first-generation iPods. Also, the black model's faceplate was replaced with a gray colored faceplate, while retaining the silver backing and the black Click Wheel.
Prior to the 'It's Only Rock and Roll' event on September 9, 2009, the price of the 120GB version was dropped to US$229. During the event, Apple replaced the 120GB version with an 160GB model, featuring the same slim profile which retailed at US$249.
According to speculation by Wired, the 6th generation was, as of 2014, expected to be the final form of the iPod Classic that helped Apple achieve its success in the 2000s. Ars Technica speculated in 2011 that the iPod Classic was nearing its end, and the site’s readers generally agreed it would not still be produced in 2013. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2013 revealed no new iPod Classic and Apple was not expected to produce another one. Production of the iPod Classic continued in low volumes as a stop-gap measure to clear out and monetize inventory of unused stand-alone parts.
On September 9, 2014, Apple discontinued the iPod Classic. The sixth-generation 160GB iPod Classic was the last Apple product in the iPod line to use the original 30-pin iPod connector and the Click Wheel. According to Tim Cook speaking at WSJD Live, the iPod Classic was discontinued because the parts were unavailable and a redesign was unwarranted given the small amount of consumer interest in the product.
However, three months after its discontinuation, the sixth-generation iPod Classic has seen its price increase by up to four times its original retail price on eBay due to increased demand by music fans.