Requiem for an iPod

We are gathered here today to bid a fond farewell to my dear departed first-generation iPod, Ein. Those who knew Ein never failed to be impressed by his cheerful, outgoing manner. Whether inside, outside, or even in the car, he never failed to have a song ready for any occasion. Though he had an eclectic taste, ranging from film scores to indie rock bands, whenever the month of December rolled around, you’d find him belting out Christmas carols with gusto. I’ll miss him this holiday season; we hadn’t quite gotten to our annual festive songs when he fell ill.

As far as iPods go, his four years were rich with experience. In that time, he travelled extensively, both in the United States as well as abroad. In 2001, he drove across the continental U.S., logging a hefty 10000 miles. Earlier this year he visited Seattle, Ireland and the UK, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Chicago. Throughout his many travels, he always brought a smile to the face of those that heard him.

As a first generation iPod, Ein was an object of veneration from the Johnny-come-lately’s like the mini and the nano. They looked up to his voice of experience; every scratch and mark on him told a story of some sort—and clearly, he had plenty of stories to tell. He laughed quietly at the “straight line” button configuration of the third generation iPod, firmly confident that his circular layout was superior, and with the introduction of the fourth generation click wheel, he was proved right. He scoffed at color screens, photos, and video too, but there was always a note of respect in his voice for what the next generations accomplished. I think he was proud to have been there at the beginning of it all.

In recent years, he’d begun to reach his capacity, and he had to be somewhat more selective about his musical appetites, to his dismay. His illness came on suddenly, and if there was any prior indication, well, he wasn’t one to complain. I’d noticed his battery wasn’t charging like it used to, but had chalked it up to his busy travel schedule and the oncoming winter—his energy was never quite the same in the cold months. Now I wonder if I maybe I’d caught it earlier…

Thursday night he froze mid-song. I snapped him out of it, but I couldn’t get him to finish more than one track; he’d freeze or restart with seemingly no provocation. I plugged him into the power adapter that night and tried to let him rest, but on Friday morning it became apparent that he’d refused to charge at all that night. Pressing almost any button caused him to restart. My heart sank and I made an appoint at the Apple store for that evening. When I produced him for the tech on duty, he was suitably impressed by the old feller’s stamina.

“A first generation?” he whistled in surprise, gingerly inspecting Ein’s weathered exterior.

I nodded mutely.

“Yeah, I had one of these in October ’01, right when they came out. These guys are tanks.”

“He’d been ticking along great for four years,” I said sadly. “But he hasn’t been looking so good in the last few days. Freezes, refusing to charge, exclamation point folders, sad iPods. I tried restoring his software, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.”

“Let me take a look,” said the tech, but I could see in his eyes that he didn’t hold out much hope.

I watched as he disappeared into the back, and waited for a tense five minutes before he returned, slowly shaking his head.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do. His heart is strong, but I’m afraid he just isn’t there any more.” He tilted the screen towards me and pressed some of the buttons; the language selection screen was visible, but there was no reaction to any of the controls. He handed Ein back to me—his 5GB seemed lighter than I remembered.

Saturday morning, my father and I took Ein back to the Apple store, where he was to be disposed of according to his last wishes. As part of the iPod recycling program, Ein’s still working components will be distributed among other iPods who might need them. It makes me glad to think that somewhere out there, a sick iPod might be the beneficiary of some small piece of Ein’s circuitry, thus continuing to provide others with the joy of music—it’s what Ein would have wanted.

Maybe even my 2nd Gen 2002 model. She’s been showing some sluggishness, especially on cold winter days. Sometimes she can barely stay awake before running out of energy.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Apple regarding my class action suit claim on the battery.