Vintage iPods Still Rock

My Aging iPods

My collection of vintage iPods stand currently at 5. From left to right is the 4th generation white 40GB iPod Photo model, the pink 4GB iPod Mini, the green 4GB iPod Nano (2nd generation) and first generation, gum stick sized iPod Shuffle(512 MB model). I have 2 of the same iPod Shuffles.

So far all of these iPods are still supported by Apple’s iTunes software that runs on my 2 Intel Macs as well as earlier versions (going back to iTunes 4.7) on my Power PC Macs. Both the iPod Photo and iPod Mini support Firewire and USB 2 file synchronization. The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle can only be synched with USB 2.

Here is a quick breakdown of each vintage iPod.

iPod Photo 40 GB

I bought this iPod brand new on a close-out from a local retailer in early 2005. This was the first iPod that I added to my collection. This is known as the 4th generation in a long line of classic iPod devices that were first introduced in late 2001. Like the original iPod and its predecessors leading up to this model, the iPod Photo 40 GB utilizes a built in hard drive in which the user can store files, photographs and music.

According to, this iPod was one of the first to feature a full color LCD screen. It allows the user to view photographs and artwork of albums that are being played from audio files. The 40GB iPod can hold up to about 7,500 audio files or songs. It supports several digital audio formats including Apple’s Purchased and Protected AAC file format, MP3, WAV, Apple Lossless, AIFF and Audible.

Complete specifications for this model can be found at

The iPod Photo is superb performer. More than 6 years after purchase it still runs like a champ and holds on to battery life for quite long. More so I use this iPod in a fashion that keeps it connected to its dock and my home stereo system. It like most other iPods is ideal  to just leave on and let the music run all day. The device supports all playlists that you create through iTunes and can randomly shuffle songs and other audio content.

The dock allows the iPod to be connected back to a Mac (through either Firewire or USB2 interfaces) to allow for synchronization of audio and photographic content. You can also use this device as another storage medium, though I rarely use that option. The iPod can also be connected to a television set. This allows the user to look at photographic slideshows  or individual pictures one at the time.

More information on the iPod Photo

2nd Generation iPod Nano

The second generation, 4GB iPod Nano is a flash memory based audio device that like the iPod Photo, can be used to listen to audio content and view photographs. This is my go anywhere iPod that I use at work, in my car and anywhere else where I want to listen to audio content.

The 4GB flash memory based iPod Nano still offers great battery life more than 4 years after I bought it brand new on discount. This iPod is used to play most of my most recently acquired music and can hold a selected portion of my iTunes library up to about 700 so so songs. It supports playlists, shuffling, album artwork display, photo library and the usual variety of audio file formats including MP3, AAC, Apple’s Purchased AAC, Apple’s old Protected AAC and audible among others. The device has been in use since my Power Macintosh’s G4 days with iTunes 4.7 all the way up my current MacBook Pro’s version of iTunes 10.3.x.

The use of this iPod and others in the car involves connecting it to an audio transmitter that runs the audio through an FM frequency on my car radio. You can see it in action below:

The audio transmitter can be used to play content from any iPod and other portable music device that features a standard 1/8 inch headphone jack.

4GB iPod Mini

I bought this pink iPod Mini from a thrift store in 2009 for about $30. It’s an old trooper much like the iPod Nano (see above). The major difference noting the fact that the iPod Nano did succeed the iPod Mini is that the mini features a monochrome LCD display and cannot show any color of photographic content. The main function of the old mini is to just play back audio content — music, speeches, audio books, that kind of stuff.

That said, the iPod Mini supports most of the popular audio file types including MP3, AAC and more. The Mini can still be synched with version 10.3.x of iTunes. It works when connected to either my Power Mac G4 tower or any of my 2 MacBook Pros.

Battery life is not very good with this old device. I am lucky to get about 2 hours of playing time before the battery needs to be recharged.

1st Generation iPod  Shuffle

I have two of these. I love the gum stick size and design. Click wheel. On-off switch. Shuffle play all the time. The 2 512MB models I have can hold up to 7 hours worth of music and/or audio content. Usually about 74 contemporary songs or about 120 shorter songs which usually means “oldies”.

The iPod Shuffle like all shuffles and Nano’s made feature flash memory. This makes both great go anywhere iPods that I use when I go on walks, driving my car or just simply waiting at places such as airports. Great music player. Convenient portability. Affordable prices.

The downside for me on the iPod Shuffle is that the devices are easily misplaced. I misplaced one of these for 11 months. When I found it in a nook under my car seat, it still played fine without a recharge to the battery. Currently I am down to one of these devices as I have again misplaced the other now for about 6 weeks.

The Click Wheel Interface

Apple introduced the “click wheel” interface for the iPod upon the release of the 1st model in 2001. I think the click wheel is the best device for all of the iPods that are dedicated for playing audio, photographic and video content only. The big thing for me about the click wheel is that the controls are tactile and can be easily manipulated without actually looking at the device. This is great when you use the device while driving. Not that I recommend this, but when I am on the road behind the wheel of my vehicle, I can reach down on the seat beside me and skip or repeat songs, adjust the volume even while I drive and not look at the device. You can’t do that with the all glass touch interface of the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad or the new iPod Nano. Click wheel rules. I hope Apple keeps a click wheel iPod in its line-up for years to come.


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