Whenever I have to pull together some information about Apple’s past—as I did recently to assemble this timeline about the iPod —I have a wealth of in-house resources at my disposal. Just a few feet away from my desk is a bookcase containing every issue of Macworld published since 2000—if I need to go further back in time, there’s a room in our office containing the entire print archive. And I have a FileMaker database on my hard drive that lists the specs, release dates, and other pertinent data for Apple desktops, laptops, and iPods—we use this database to generate the Hardware Guide you’ll find elsewhere on the site.
But these aren’t the only tools I use when it’s time to delve into Apple’s history. I like to double- and triple-check my notes to make sure that the information I have jibes with what’s floating out there in the world. Then, there’s the not-insignificant challenge of confirming dates—because of print publishing lead times, an article appearing in the January 2002 issue of Macworld , for example, may have been written in September of the previous year… or October… or possibly even November. So it’s good to have multiple sources confirming that, even though the first mention of the iPod in the pages of Macworld was in January 2002, the device was actually unveiled in late October 2001 and didn’t ship until November.
So here are some of the online resources I found invaluable while fact-checking my latest timeline. I wanted to give their creators a public hat tip, as well as let Mac users interested in Apple’s history know about some great online tools that are just a URL away.
Any time I have to refer to an old Mac model in an article, one of the first sources outside of Macworld that I check is apple-history.com, a collection of data on every Mac ever made. (I profiled the site and its creator, Glen Sanford, in the January 2002 edition of Macworld —coincidentally, the same issue that introduces the world to the iPod.) Besides the skinny on the Macintosh LC II and the Quadra 950, apple-history.com also has an extensive list of iPod models throughout time. It’s a site definitely worth adding to your Bookmark bar. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a similar resource, EveryMac.com, which also offers technical specs on historic Mac models and displays.)
While Googling around the Internet, I came across this terrific visual timeline of iPod releases at MacTeens.com. Laying out each iPod model across a horizontal timeline really makes it easy to follow along with the when and how much of iPod releases. This timeline also shows when Apple discontinued offerings, which is a helpful addition.
One last great tool is Ian Page’s Mactracker application. This searchable database includes information on nearly every Apple product ever made—and that includes iPods. My colleague Dan Frakes was so impressed he gave it a -rating and included it in our recent Best Software Gems round-up.
Those are the tools I use when I need to look up information about old Mac and iPod models; it’s by no means an exhaustive list, however. So if you know of a great resource for historical Apple information, feel free to share it by clicking on the comments link below.