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‘Why did people buy this?’: Kids React to the original iPod


“It’s like a cinder block,” said seven-year old Jenna about the first generation iPod, which came out all the way back at the dawn of the new millenium, circa 2001. As part of the Fine Brothers Entertainment’s “Kids React!” YouTube series, kids were given an original iPod and asked how to use it. And the results were, predictably for the series, pretty hilarious.

In a touch screen-friendly world in which most devices have a variety of functions, the kids were quite surprised that the iPod could only do one thing: playback music. The video is certainly a testament to the rapid pace of technology, as the aging device hearkens back to an era in which streaming music seemed like a fantasy.

The boys and girls, all between the ages of seven and thirteen, had difficulty with the simplest of tasks: turning the device on, playing a song, and being able to actually listen to the music. The OG iPod, which came in 5-10 GB versions, had a mechanical scroll wheel and five buttons (if you’ll recall): “menu,” “rewind,” “fast forward,” “play / pause” and the center button. The first task, to turn the device on, honestly isn’t entirely intuitive in retrospect. But all of the kids eventually powered the iPod on after clicking its different buttons.

Once the iPod was turned on, the kids realized that the iPod differs from today’s iPhone in one highly significant way: there’s no touch screen on this iPod! It actually wasn’t until six years later, in 2007, that Apple debuted the first touch screen-based iPod. But, eventually, they were able to figure out how to use the scroll wheel to control the iPod and successfully navigate to the music catalog.

But then there was another significant difference from today’s iPhones: no speakers on this iPod! Once the kids were able to get a song rolling, they quickly realized that they couldn’t hear anything without using headphones. One workaround was attaching a mini portable speaker — a peripheral that now looks pretty silly — to your iPod.

After realizing the limitations of the first iPod, the kids realized the extent of technological advancement during their lifetime. And some of them were confused as to why this bulky $400 iPod was even popular when it first debuted, considering that it can’t even call people, connect to Wi-Fi, host advanced games, or even directly download music without connecting to a computer.

“Why did people buy this,” asked Jenna. “Why can’t you just be happy with what you have on the radio?”

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Chris Leo Palermino
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chris Leo Palermino is a music, tech, business, and culture journalist based between New York and Boston. He also contributes…
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