Happy Birthday Little Dude!

Today was the fifth birthday of the iPod, and there’s been much rejoicing and hullabaloo all over the ‘net about this momentous occasion. Adding my voice to that cacophony probably doesn’t bring much value, but I will tell you how this little device has both rocked and rolled my world.

But first, I need to tell you about my music appetite.

When I was in high school in the late 70s, I was a rebel without a clue, but I did have an AM/FM transistor radio that I carried daily to school. I’d wolf down my lunch, and sit in front of the school, reading a book, and listening to the local rock station.

Fast forward a few years to about 1983, and CDs started to hit the market. At this time, I had hundreds and hundreds of LPs, and was a nut about taking care of them – linear tracking turntable, play-once-and-record on a dbx-enabled tape deck. I saw a second generation Sony CD player, and I was hooked. I think I paid about $700 for that beastie, and began building my CD collection.

Not too many years after that, I saw my first portable CD player, and was convinced that was the direction I needed to head. By the time the late 1980s rolled around, I had a portable CD player, and as the calendar turned to the 1990s, I regularly took it to work, schlepping a dozen or so CDs with me to listen to throughout my day. Later, I’d just play them in my PC at work, but the drill was the same – listen to a few tracks, change the disc, and move on.

The late 1990s introduced me to MP3s, and I ripped all my CDs to MP3s so I could carry them to work that way. With almost 10 CDs stored on a single MP3 CD, I thought this was as good as it could get, and I worked this way for years. I’d carry a few to work, and listen there, but once I got home, I didn’t listen so much. While there were portable MP3 players out there, I never really jumped on the bandwagon.

Frankly, I don’t remember when I first heard about the iPod. It was not at its time of announcement, I know that. I didn’t even think about buying one until the iPod Color (4G) model was released in 2005. By then, I’d started delving into photography seriously, and I saw the potential for not only showing off my work on the device, but being able to use it as a portable storage device during shoots. As it ends up, I barely used it for either purpose. Why, you might ask?

Well, I discovered my music again. I was like a kid in a candy store. I filled up my iPod (60Gb), and quite by accident, began living my life to a soundtrack… one I was making up as I went along. My iPod went with me everywhere – work, mowing the grass, cycling, photo shoots.

This year, I upgraded to an iPod (5G) 80Gb. I’m putting video on it, and enjoying the soundtracks of some of my favorite films while going through my life.

I’ve never listened to music as voraciously as I do now, and it’s all the iPod’s fault. Now I listen to the “dead” tracks on CDs that I’ve never listened to before. I have playlists, both automated and with tracks selectively chosen, that can transport me to particular points in my life, as well as making certain events more pleasant: coding, cycling, and all kinds of other events. I stay up to date with things both tech and photographic via podcasts.

This little device has not only brought me and my music back together, but it has made it so easy to consume mass quantities of music, video and podcasts anywhere I am. The ease of doing this takes me back to my music-listening roots… and I can do that anywhere I want!

Happy birthday, iPod!