On iPod 20th Anniversary, Take First Look at Extremely Early iPod Prototype

On iPod 20th Anniversary, Take First Look at Extremely Early iPod Prototype

Extremely Early iPod Prototype

October 23rd marks the 20th anniversary of former Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs’ release of the first iPod. To commemorate this milestone, Cabel Sasser of app developer Panic has posted an exclusive photo of an extremely early iPod prototype that no one has ever seen before on his official blog.

The rare prototype has a simple, oversized yellowish case that is quite large compared to the original iPod shipped, even though it was made late in the product development cycle. Cabel Sasser says the date of birth for this iPod prototype is September 3, 2001.

It’s not clear exactly what the prototype is, but it is certainly an Apple-produced prototype, and the disassembly reveals many elements containing the Apple name and other identifying marks, such as the “SPG Development” sticker, that would indicate it is authentic. The prototype is running the iPod’s signature software and even has a small scroll wheel in the upper left corner next to the display. There are several vertically aligned touch buttons on the right side of the device.

It has the same ports as the original iPod, including FireWire and a standard headphone jack. The display is very small compared to the rest of the yellow case, but it seems comparable to the iPod itself. On the side is a cutout for what appears to be a connector known as “JTAG” that is said to assist with debugging on the device.

Looking at the teardown image alone, it looks very empty inside, with its components taking up very little internal space and the wires simply held in place with tape. A label on one component bears the date of September 3, 2001, indicating that it was manufactured less than two months before release.

In addition, Tony Fadell, the father of the iPod, tweeted more details about the prototype, which Fadell said was called the “P68/Dulcimer” and was specifically designed to hide the final design of the iPod from prying eyes.

This is a P68/Dulcimer iPod prototype we (very quickly) made before the true form factor design was ready. Didn’t want it to look like an iPod for confidentiality – the buttons placement, the size – it was mostly air inside – and the wheel worked (poorly)

Tony Fadell

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