The mystery of the birth of the iPod

While iPod, the tiny and almost boring is the brainchild of Apple, took its first tentative steps to triumphant success, the mysteries associated with his birth no one was interested. Then they were put on public display and presented a dirty and shameful…

Triumphant success is the envy and hatred since time immemorial, apparently, is one of the features of our species. Just get acquainted with how it really was, and make your own conclusions.

In 2000, Steve likely didn’t even think about another attempt by Apple to conquer the market of consumer electronics. Such attempts have already been made, and their results are well known. Technically, home appliances offered by Apple in the 90s was very interesting, the Newton MessagePad was a serious potential digital camera QuickTake also was not outright failure, but the result was sad.

The company has worked on several appliances. For example, in the 90s, Apple was developing a phone. Information about this project a bit, we only know that it was not the iPhone.

But at the end of 2000 or early in 2001, happened something very important…

Tony Fadell

Tony, an American of Arab descent (Lebanese), the biological father of Steve jobs too (from the Syrian city of HOMS), most likely it had nothing important, just an interesting detail.

Tony worked at Philips until his one idea. As it happens always and everywhere, to convince the company to do it, he failed. Quit, and tried to carry this idea to some other company, but also to no avail. Another parallel, is not it?

As once remarked Steve, if in 1976 already had a personal computer that could be bought, he would have just bought. Such a computer was not, and none of the companies to which he applied with his idea, did not listen to him. I admit that at that time, despite the talent of persuasion, Steve lacked knowledge in this area, and he could not convincingly prove the value of their ideas.

Tony suggested, neither more nor less than a revolution in the music industry, whose main character was supposed to be a portable MP3 player built around a hard drive, petite but decent capacity, and its associated online store, for example, already incredibly popular “pirate” shop Napster.

Since none of the companies that are able to solve technical and organizational tasks of this project and saw in him potential, he started this revolution itself. One after another, he built several prototypes, horrible in appearance and far from what could be called the word product, but…

First, he found people who understood him, and was even ready to support, technically and even financially. The name of this company PortalPlayer, and she was engaged in development of “systems on chip”, based on ARM processors, mainly for the players. Tony turned to this company in search of processors to their prototypes, and there became acquainted with a senior Manager Benjamin, Knauss.

Secondly, Jon Rubenstein (senior Vice President, Apple Computer “hardware”), was familiar with someone from the leadership of PortalPlayer, and him, over a glass of tea and soda, probably, told about a man with an interesting idea, unbelievably it would be interesting to do, especially since the company name for this development very well, but…

Apple presentation Tony Fadell

Alas, the moments in which there is something great and momentous, as a rule, one does not know to fix, at least on paper.

Tony Fadell called Steve jobs. They met, and Tony did what he normally did Steve. Very convincing, obviously thinking told in advance, he opened Steve’s plan, in which he saw… Say simply and without pathos, though it would be quite appropriate that the Apple was necessary, and needed immediately.

Tony not only told about his idea: he brought to the meeting their prototypes, showed them and asked me to help him. The recruitment did not take place in a few minutes Tony Fadell was already an Apple employee and team leader on a special project.

If someone in 1976 Steve was appointed group Executive, special product…


At the time of his appointment as the head of a special project with Tony Fadell has been, according to him, 80% of the developed product. Both the operating system and the hardware. Or rather, not so much he, as a relatively small California company PortalPlayer – but the appearance of it all, Tony really was involved.

In early 2001 from PortalPlayer had 12 customers, approximately 300 employees in San Jose, California, and India. With the exception of IBM and Teac, the company worked successfully with Asian companies. IBM was working very good MP3 player with a hard disk, a circular screen and wireless Bluetoothheadsets.

In the development of hardware and software for this device has participated PortalPlayer, led this group, the aforementioned Ben Knauss.

Within a few days at PortalPlayer, everything has changed: the customer has only one left, and it was Apple. All legal and financial problems were rapidly resolved. The offended was not. Wonderful, and very cute (in the words of Ben Knauss, he was prettier than iPod) player from IBM did not see anybody except developers.

About 80% Tony, most likely, wrong. Over what were to become the prototypes, it was necessary to work. From Apple, the project involved a group of special projects with a team of 30 people, led by author Tony Vadella, with the participation of John Rubinstein and Jonathan Ive. In working under contract with Apple iPod PortalPlayer over the next 200 people are working in San Jose and 80 in India.

Then this process is called “shameless stealing from PortalPlayer its development”, but you know: the iPod has been developed with the money of Apple, with the involvement of all the resources that were available to her.

In the first two months Steve has met but “special project” every two or three weeks, but since February 2001 it dealt only with the iPod.

Prediction Tony Fadell, and something else

Steve presenting his idea, Tony promised that his proposed business model will be for Apple core, “in ten years” and that the company soon will not be called Apple Computer, and otherwise. Maybe, just Apple. A little brazen, don’t you think?

Besides, he was wrong. It didn’t happen ten years from now, and six.

Steve considered Tony one of his best friends. In 2008, Tony left his post as senior Director of the group’s iPod and special projects, unable to defend their opinion about what should be the operating system of the iPhone. He believed that it should be similar to the operating system of the iPod. With jobs, they remained friends.

Ben Knauss, who headed the project from PortalPlayer, quit the company a couple of weeks before public announcement of the iPod, as they were absolutely sure the failure of the iPod, and that because of this his company will start big trouble.

To be continued

0 Comments on “The mystery of the birth of the iPod”

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