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Swansong of the iPod

From LP records to tape recorders and CDs, it’s been a bumpy ride for music lovers. And iPods changed all that. Just like that. One fine day.

May 14, 2022 / 08:07 AM IST
Technology dates our anecdotes. (Image: Brett Jordan via Unsplash)

Technology dates our anecdotes. (Image: Brett Jordan via Unsplash)

iPods are bidding goodbye. They will follow the Walkman into the great heaven for obsolete technology and machinery. There they will be with cameras, wristwatches, telegrams and STD calls, smirking at the arrogance of iPhone 13, Fitbits and Smart TV. Like all formerly trendy apparatus, they know that every gadget is mortal. The end is nigh, sooner or later.

We remember with a nostalgic pang the time iPods first came into our lives over two decades ago. Suddenly music was directly in our ear. We could listen to songs in a way we never could before; they travelled with us, went on forever and sang only to us. Like having a personal orchestra! From LP records to tape recorders and CDs, it’s been a bumpy ride for music lovers. And iPods changed all that. Just like that. One fine day.

Of course, such is life. We’ve had to say ta-ta to black and white TV sets and refrigerators that wheezed loudly as if on life support. VCRs and VCDs gave way to YouTube and Netflix and Amazon. From grandparents who claim to have studied under street lamps and parents who say they walked for miles, climbed hills and swam their way to school, to us who took the school bus and the latest generation who got their degrees on Zoom, technology dates our anecdotes.

Water came from streams, then wells, then public taps, then private taps in your own home. Two stones rubbed for fire graduated to lamps and lanterns and candles and now electric bulbs. Mankind has been adjusting to change. We have been inventing and discovering and hurtling towards the future, even as we pause now and then to wipe a tear at the sudden demise of something we could not live without up until then.

Apple’s announcement about discontinuing iPods has turned social media sentimental. Everyone is remembering their first iPod. It was handy and portable. Only you could hear that song! It had you singing aloud in an impossibly shrill pitch, and bursting into song at a railway station or in a room full of strangers. It made you Michael Jackson! Remember the first time someone next to you spoke softly and intimately, only for you to realise they were speaking into their phone with earphones on? Not to you, not to you.

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Modern technology needs us to move with the times, to adapt, to change, to progress. And though the things we walk past are just that – things – we are human enough to mourn and miss. All creatures, even those inanimate, have a shelf life. But it goes into the space of art or personal museums, the landline or camera or radio or desktop we once used. What gave us such joy once upon a time lives on in our memories.

Which brings us back to the iPod. Its tagline when first launched said ‘1,000 songs in your pocket’. No idle boast. A thousand tunes will haunt us as they go over the cliff one by one.



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Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
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