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Thanks to Jacqui Cheng at Arstechnica, now we are about to look back at 12 years of iTunes releases.


Sept. 18, 2016


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iTunes has walked a long road to reach this point - version 1.0 appeared in January 2001. While we're waiting for Apple's new ship date of "late November" to arrive, let's take a look back at how iTunes has evolved in the last 12 years.

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iTunes 1.0: World's Best and Easiest To Use Jukebox Software

Apple advertised it as the most amazing jukebox software the world has ever seen, allowing users to rip CDs into MP3s and organize their music within an easy-to-use interface. The tagline "Rip. Mix. Burn." essentially came from this release - Apple emphasized the ability of users to make their own CD mixes and re-burn them back to CD, like a mix tape.

At the time of this release, the iPod had not yet made its public debut - that came later in the year. So those MP3s you were ripping? They were meant to be synced to some other MP3 player, such as those that were available from Creative Labs or Rio. A week after the original release of iTunes, Apple announced it had seen a whopping 275,000 downloads from Mac users.

iTunes 1.0

iTunes 2.0: Enter the iPod

The second full-point release of iTunes came 10 months after the first. That was because Apple finally revealed its ultra-secret project: the iPod. Apple advertised this release of iTunes as having "seamless integration" with its new MP3 player, with songs and playlists automatically syncing to the iPod over FireWire. Apple also added an equalizer and cross fading with this release, and began bundling iTunes with OS X. The software also allowed users to burn CDs of MP3 files, not just traditional CDs, so people could store more music than ever on their iTunes-mixed CDs.

iTunes 3.0: Smart playlists debut

iTunes 3 was released in July 2002. The headline feature was smart playlists, which allowed users to create dynamic playlists based on a set of rules (like mail rules). If you wanted a playlist of your 20 most listened-to songs, or only songs you added since a certain date, iTunes would be happy to do it for you. iTunes 3 also came with "Sound Check," Apple's system for adjusting the volume of your playlist to a consistent level, and support for audiobooks from

iTunes 4.0: Music store, here we come

iTunes 4 was released in April 2003, bringing with it the first version of the iTunes Music Store. This, you can imagine, was huge - at the time, most Internet users were still either buying music in CD form or just pirating away. Buying music from a major company like Apple was something of a foreign concept, but Apple wooed users by offering individual songs for 99¢ apiece - now, everything was a single that you could cherry pick.

Along with the iTunes Store came Apple's proprietary FairPlay DRM; users could burn music to an unlimited number of CDs or sync to an unlimited number of iPods, but only three Macs could play the files. FairPlay ended up being in place on music sold through the iTunes Store until 2009, when Apple introduced DRM-free "iTunes Plus" tracks.

iTunes 5.0: iPod nano, podcasts, and more

With iTunes 5, Apple moved major point releases of the app to the fall. The iPod nano had just been announced at the same 2005 media event, and iTunes 5 was (naturally) built to support it. Apple also added features like Smart Shuffle (Apple's attempt at making its random feature more, well, random), and allowed Windows users to sync their Outlook contacts and calendars to their iPods. (Just prior to the 5.0 release, Apple had released its first version of iTunes on PC.)

iTunes 6.0: Music videos galore

iTunes 6 arrived only a month after the release of iTunes 5 - Apple was pretty loose with its full version numbers back then. In October of 2005, Apple added music videos to the iTunes Store for the first time, as well as a small handful of TV shows like Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Night Stalker for $1.99 per episode. This was TV's first foray into iTunes and the networks were wary of being taken advantage of by Apple. iTunes Store users could also purchase short films from Pixar for $1.99, foreshadowing the eventual release of movies through iTunes.

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