In which I outline my iPod Life and say RIP to Steve Jobs

Listening to: The Dead Milkmen, “Beelzebubba”

I bought my first iPod in 2003.

It was a birthday/holiday gift from me to me, and the first large purchase I made with my own money that I had saved on my own.  I was nervous when I made the final decision to buy it.  I had never spent any amount even close to $400 on anything before.

I bought the third generation iPod, the one that most people in the USA thought was the first gen.  It was the one that had no actual buttons — just four touch buttons for play, pause, forward and back; a scroll wheel; and a menu button.  The screen was black and white — no color, no photos, and two games.

my first iPod

3rd Gen iPod - via Apple

I loved that thing.

Before the Age of the iPod, I carried my portable CD player around with me everywhere.  I would keep a few CDs in my huge messenger-bag-excuse-for-a-backpack and change them out every half hour or so, or shuffle the songs and replay them over if I was lacking other CD options that day.

The iPod was the enabler of my music (r)evolution.  The answer to the giant stack of CDs that cluttered the top of my high school locker.  The holder of thousands of songs so I would never again be stuck far from my CD collection or computer and without the music I wanted to hear.

My first iPod lasted four years.  It died the night before my first ever show in college radio.  I freaked out, burned some CDs of songs I knew I’d want, and lamented over how and why my iPod and the universe could do this to me.  The show went fine, by the way, save for two drunk upperclassmen who used to have my graveyard time slot and showed up wanting to go on air (another story for another time).

iPod numba 2

iPod 5th Gen - via Apple

I soon bought a new iPod, a fifth generation with a color display that I still have today.  I really only use it now for music to fall asleep to or on especially long travels, but it still works, stands by me and holds a good selection of my music library.

Since then, I went through an Apple computer-resentment phase where I stuck by my PC but still always had my iPod in my pocket.  I got over that and accumulated a second generation iPod shuffle, a borrowed iPhone, a MacBook 4,1, a 3GS iPhone and an iPhone 4.  I kept all the ones I could keep, for sentimental reasons, even if I no longer use them.

My music tastes were largely driven by friends and experience, but that music experience would not have been what it was without my mp3 players and smart phones.    I owe a lot of what shapes my music personality today to the ability to carry such a massive amount of music with me in a rectangle that weighs less than a pound.  Moreover, I’m completely reliant on my iPhone now, and only a tiny bit ashamed to admit it.

Today, Steve Jobs died.  He was the visionary behind so much technology that I’ve alternately loved and loathed, but can’t deny is incredible.  Apple has always seemed to be ahead of the curve and offered innovations that are sleek and user-friendly, even when I resent them at first.  Apple will carry on without Jobs, but the product won’t exist in the same way without him.  The company may stay at the forefront or even surpass Microsoft in Jobs’ posthumous era, but we’ll never know what might have been if he’d kicked around for another few years.

Thanks for some truly awesome technology.  You left before your time.  RIP, Steve Jobs.

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