Top 25 "It" products of all time: #1 -- The iPod


They're so ubiquitous now, a little more than seven years later, that it's hard to remember just how revolutionary the iPod was.

Portable music had existed as long as the cassette tape, and compact discs had been in wide use for some 20 years. But those were cumbersome, couldn't be bumped around, and required users to constantly flip or change cassettes or disc. Cell phones had mushroomed just three years before. Portable music was ripe for its own revolution, and as Edison proved, necessity is often the seed of great fruit. A little over a month after 9/11, in October 2001, Apple announced its first iPod.

At first, media critics scoffed at the luxury price tag of $400. And, yes, that was a lot, but as we soon discovered, the price would come down. The ability to be able to carry around all your music on something the size of a deck of cards proved irresistible. Apple soon unleashed a torrent of cheaper, smaller, more powerful versions, and by 2007, the Nano, a flash version of the original, was Apple's biggest seller, and the average price on an iPod was $161.

There were some MP3-playing antecedents on the market. Every game-changing product has its early rumblings. But many of them were, quite frankly, ugly, and their designs were often cluttered with buttons and navigational menus that only a techie could love. The iPod, though, was pretty. It was easy to use (even though that spinning scroll wheel on the first model was, thankfully, replaced by a pad that sensed your finger's touch). There was something classical about it from the very start.