The Macworld Podcast goes back in time to 2001 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the iPod. Five years ago this coming Monday, Apple unveiled the portable player that completely transformed how we listened to music. If you recall, that original iPod offered 5GB of hard-drive-based storage in a 6.5-ounce device about the size of a deck of cards. The price? $399—a far cry from the $249 a 30GB video-capable iPod will cost you these days.

Did anyone anticipate the impact the iPod would wind up having on Apple, users, and the industry as a whole? To find out, we gathered together four Macworld editors who attended that October 2001 press event—myself, Editor at Large Rick LePage, Senior News Editor Jonathan Seff, and Executive Editor Philip Michaels—for a look back at the iPod’s debut.

I also catch up with Newsweek’s senior editor and chief technology writer Steven Levy, a former Macworld columnist himself. Steven’s new book is about the iPod— The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness —so we talk about the iPod’s launch, the quest for the truly random shuffle, and the origins of the “iPod people” effect when people shut out the outside world.

This edition of the podcast is jumbo-sized, but why not? Without the iPod there almost certainly wouldn’t even be a Macworld Podcast.

Download Episode #56

•  AAC version (13.3MB, 54 minutes)

•  MP3 version (12.5MB, 54 minutes)

•  Complete transcript

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Show Notes

You can watch a video of the iPod’s 2001 unveiling at YouTube —see how many Macworld editors you can spot.

For more from Steven Levy, visit his home page, where you can find links to his other books— Crypto, Hackers, and, of course, Insanely Great, among others.

Macworld will have more iPod anniversary coverage leading up to October 23.

Music Credits: “Basic” by Epicte the Elemental. Want to hear more of his music? Need a DJ in the Washington, D.C. area? E-mail him at epicte [at] gmail [dot] com.

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