An important anniversary passed in Apple’s history this weekend, but the world’s largest technology company seems to have forgotten to break out the cake and party hats.
Maybe the oversight had something to do with the announcement of its first annual sales decline in 15 years, though conveniently, that’s the exact age of Apple’s first iPod. That’s right. The portable music player that put an unprecedented 1,000 songs into our pockets, sold over of 350 million units, and—up until the iPhone—was the iconic product in Apple history celebrated its birthday at the end of October; and its creators had absolutely nothing to show for it. Not a tweet nor an Instagram photo. Not even a pathetic “HBD!” Facebook post that you’d share on the walls of your most obscure of acquaintances.
In Apple’s defense, the iPod wasn’t the first innovative product that they launched after Jobs’ 1997 return to the company. That would have been the iMac G3, closely followed by the iBook, but honestly, who really cared about those when people could be burning their bulky CD players? The iPod was, undoubtedly, the creation which confirmed that mobile devices were going to act as the long-term focus for Apple.
Today, all that remains on Apple’s iPod artillery shelves is the 6th generation iPod Touch and the teeny-tiny portable Nanos and Shuffles. In the 15 years since the first generation of the iPod was released, the lineup has had a ton of alterations—some for better, and some for worse.
So without further ado, here’s our ranking of some of Apple’s iPods from best to worst. Hopefully you have some nostalgic nightmares about how chunky some of these were.
- iPod Nano – 4th Generation (2008)
Before you say “WTF?!” hear us out. This curved screen, multi-color beauty was perfect mix of old and new in the Nano series. It was a sleeker version of the original Nano, but still featured the classic iPod scroll wheel. Apple also added an accelerometer so that you could view videos in a landscape format, making it perfect for sneaking into your camp lockbox when the iPod Touch was outlawed. Though storage space might have been limited, it was 2008. We were all having a bad year.
- iPod Classic – 6th Generation (2009)
In 2007, Apple somehow managed to make the classic cool again with major storage and graphic upgrades. That year also saw the release of the first generation iPhone, which basically overshadowed it tenfold. Poor guy. Still, the iPod Classic was impressive with 160GB, with which you could fill with your obnoxiously large libraries of pirated music. Thus began the odd passive aggressive competition of: “How many songs you got on your iPod?”
- iPod Touch (6th Generation) (2015)
Here’s one you can actually still get. The OG iPod Touch introduced the App Store and its 106 free games to portable music devices, establishing the series as the most developed of non-iPhone devices. We’ve listed the most recent model because it has the fastest processor, although its lack of a bright color-scheme makes the fifth generation version a prettier device. Either way, if you’re going to play Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja, or Glow Hockey Lite, this is the iPod you’ll want to use for the full nostalgia effect.
- iPod Mini – 1st Generation (2004)
The iPod Mini didn’t really do anything new for iPods, keeping with a black and white screen and standard features, but this is a toy we can clearly recall using for hours at a time while guessing the next big Kids’ Choice Award winner. Even with a sad capacity of 4GB and a mere 8 hours of battery life, this special device was released during iPod prime. Sure it was a bit rusty, but it paved the way for the Nano, so let’s give a participation trophy where it is due. You go, iPod Mini.
- iPod Photo (2004)
We knew this iPod had an expiration date the moment it debuted in 2004. It wasn’t a part of a distinct series, so it’s often discounted. Yes, it was the first time a color screen appeared in the iPod lineup, but it couldn’t be appreciated much beyond album artwork – which you probably didn’t even have if you got your music from Limewire. It’s a meh device and was overshadowed quickly.
- iPod Shuffle – All Generations (2008)
Please find us one person under the age of 40 that actually likes the concept behind the iPod shuffle. Seriously? You can’t select what songs you want to listen to because the device is designed to shuffle around your entire library – gross. It’s meant to be a music player that’s easy to clip onto your shirt when you do exercise stuff, but what kind of freak only has aggressive pump-up music in their library?
- iPod Nano – 6th Generation (2010)
Apple needed a lesson in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” with this iPod. The sixth generation of the Nano attempted to push the boundaries of Apple’s futuristic desire to rid the world of all buttons. It was literally just a screen. Though it was bold and integrated the Shuffle’s handy dandy clip, no one could deny that the device was straight-up weird. Thankfully, the company returned to the standard Nano design in the next model, rightfully sweeping this generation under the rug.
- iPod Shuffle – 3rd generation (2009
Yes, all the shuffles sucked, but this one didn’t even let you control the volume.
(Disclaimer: This list is solely intended to pay homage to iPods, because let’s face it, iPods are dead – everyone streams their music nowadays.)