The iPod was a game-changer when it burst onto the scene in 2001. But 20 years on, the way we listen to music has shifted from downloaded and ripped MP3s to streaming music services. One thousand songs in your pocket? Today, Apple Music claims to have 50 million songs in its catalog.
To reflect this change — and make an old piece of tech useful in 2021 — YouTube Guy Dupont recently hacked a 17-year-old iPod Classic so that it can wirelessly stream Spotify. Check out the video below.
The Classic paradox: The iPod of Theseus
To be clear, this isn’t just a software hack. Dupont pretty much gutted Apple’s hardware and added components like a Raspberry Pi Zero W board, replacement LCD color display, haptic motor, and 1000 mAh rechargeable battery.
The fact that, almost two decades later, these components fit in the comparatively cavernous iPod Classic body isn’t much of a shocker. But the fact that he was able to get it working with the original Click Wheel is certainly very nifty.
It didn’t stop there, either. Dupont also built a new user interface with Python, resulting in an iPod that’s able to play any current digital audio format there is — and even search Spotify.
It’s an impressive achievement. It also reminds me of the old metaphysics thought experiment about the ship of Theseus: if you replace or upgrade virtually every component of a particular object, does it remain the same object? Is a ship that’s had every plank, sail, and mast replaced by a new one still the same ship at its core? And is an iPod Classic that’s no longer, well, classic, still an iPod? Regardless of what the answer is, Guy Dupont deserves a round of applause.
Even if Apple, presumably, would have rather that he chose Apple Music instead of Spotify as his streaming service of choice.