Like anyone with an unhealthy penchant for living in the past, I’m a slave to nostalgia—especially for a simpler era, when my options for media consumption were adorably limited and not cripplingly overwhelming.
Obviously it’s wonderful to have instant access to the entire recorded output of, say, Wilco at my fingertips, let alone the entire recorded output of literally every recording artist ever. But I often long for a time when I could only fit a finite amount of songs in my pocket, and I’d be forced to choose which single Wilco album I’d carry with me because I didn’t have room for the rest (Summerteeth, for the record).
Plus, it was comforting to know those songs couldn’t swiftly disappear from my device without notice, as they so often do on platforms like Spotify. Remember what it was like to actually own your music and not be at the mercy of the fickle streaming gods?
My first iPod, a fourth-generation beauty released in 2004, is somewhere in the recesses of my childhood bedroom, I’m sure, but I can still picture it. I can still feel it in my hands, the bulky metal box enveloped by a blue, rubbery case. I can still hear the rickety click wheel turn. I can still conjure up the legitimate thrill of pressing shuffle and not knowing which song from my curated collection would hit my headphones next. Man, I miss that clunky thing.
And if I can get wistful for my trusty fourth-gen friend, imagine the still-rampant sentiment engendered by the first iPod, which Apple dropped in November 2001 and discontinued by the next summer.
The primitive portable media player, which featured five buttons, a scroll wheel, and a grayscale LCD screen, could pack up to 1,000 songs (!) on its 5-gigabyte hard drive. Here’s Steve Jobs unveiling the revolutionary gadget—not the first mp3 player, but, in Apple fashion, the smallest, sleekest, and easiest to use—at his 2001 keynote:
Apple kept unleashing newer, more powerful iPods every year after that, with each new device boasting capabilities more game-changing than the last. By 2014, the iPhone had long since taken up all of Apple’s attention, and so the company quietly put the iPod to bed for good, presumably in a nice, comfy room down the hall from the Zune and the Rio.
But more than a decade earlier, those very first iPods—the trailblazing ones—completely vanished from the shelves. And diehards have been trying to find them ever since.
Well, some news: Earlier this week, a factory-sealed box containing an original, never-opened first-gen iPod hit eBay for the cool cost of $19,995—up from its $399 tag back in 2001.
Look, if you have $20k to light on fire, there’s no denying the product’s appeal: 10-hour battery life! FireWire connectivity! The capability to support not just MP3s, but Aiff and WAV formats!
Of course, if you think this is insane, another factory-sealed first-gen reportedly sold for $20,000 on eBay in 2014, so the asking price checks out, and someone out of the 63 watchers (as of press time) will probably happily pony up.
Personally, this is a tad rich for my blood, but can you really put a price tag on returning to an uncomplicated, Pollyannaish era and reclaiming your lost innocence?
Yes. Yes you can. It’s $19,995. Plus $65.10 for expedited shipping.