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iPod is a line of portable media players created and marketed by Apple and designed by Jonathan Ive announced on October 23, 2001, and released on November 10, 2001. The product line-up currently consists of the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touch screen iPod Touch, the compact iPod Nano, and the ultra-compact iPod Shuffle. iPod Classic models store media on an internal hard drive, while all other models use flash memory to enable their smaller size (the discontinued Mini used a Microdrive miniature hard drive). As with many other digital music players, iPods can also serve as external data storage devices. Storage capacity varies by model, ranging from 2 GB for the iPod Shuffle to 160 GB for the iPod Classic. All of the models have been redesigned multiple times since their introduction. The most recent iPod redesigns were introduced on September 1, 2010.

Discontinued models of the line include the iPod Mini and the iPod Photo, the former being replaced by the iPod Nano, and the latter reintegrated into the main iPod line (now the iPod Classic).

The iPod line came from Apple’s “digital hub” category, when the company began creating software for the growing market of personal digital devices. Digital cameras, camcorders and organizers had well-established mainstream markets, but the company found existing digital music players “big and clunky or small and useless” with user interfaces that were “unbelievably awful,” so Apple decided to develop its own. As ordered by CEO Steve Jobs, Apple’s hardware engineering chief Jon Rubinstein assembled a team of engineers to design the iPod line, including hardware engineers Tony Fadell and Michael Dhuey, and design engineer Jonathan Ive. The product was developed in less than one year and unveiled on October 23, 2001. Jobs announced it as a Mac-compatible product with a 5 GB hard drive that put “1,000 songs in your pocket.”

The iPod line can play several audio file formats including MP3, Protected AAC, AIFF, WAV, Audible audiobook, and Apple Lossless. iPod software for Microsoft Windows was launched with the second generation model.

During installation, an iPod is associated with one host computer. Each time an iPod connects to its host computer, iTunes can synchronize entire music libraries or music playlists either automatically or manually. Song ratings can be set on an iPod and synchronized later to the iTunes library, and vice versa. A user can access, play, and add music on a second computer if an iPod is set to manual and not automatic sync, but anything added or edited will be reversed upon connecting and syncing with the main computer and its library. If a user wishes to automatically sync music with another computer, an iPod’s library will be entirely wiped and replaced with the other computer’s library.

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