Archive for the ‘Teal’ Category

A Prototype Original iPod

Saturday, October 23rd, 2021

If you can believe it, the iPod is 20 years old, today.

Now, when we look back, we can pretty clearly see that the iPod was the genesis of a totally different kind of Apple — an Apple willing to enter new markets and make the best version of that new thing. Sure, Apple had made other things before (QuickTake! PowerCD!) but they never really felt committed to those things. And there was lots of portable MP3 playing competition (like the titular Nomad in “less space than a Nomad“), but the iPod was one of the first times Apple showed up and did what we now think of as their standard move — they made The Apple Version®. It was personal, well-designed, innovative, meaningful, the sum of which was more than specs and checklists. We (I? The industry?) needed that. I have fond memories of Dave (who now works on Playdate) reverse-engineering the iPod database storage format so that you could use Audion to load songs onto it. I remember how plain fun it was to use — that click wheel, the original fidget toy! It was cool that I could use it as a tiny portable hard drive. The iPod was really good.

To celebrate, I want to show you something you’ve never seen before.

Now, there are a lot of mysteries in the Panic Archives (it’s a closet) but by far one of the most mysterious is what you’re seeing for the first time today: an original early iPod prototype.

We don’t know much about where it came from. But we’ve been waiting 20 years to share it with you.

As you can see, it’s… quite large! We’ve always assumed that this mighty shell was designed to fit the large breadboards or circuit boards that were used during the earliest days of iPod development, until everything was eventually sized down to actual iPod-size. (It also has the Jobsian side-benefit of keeping the engineers in the dark about what the final device will look like.) I can’t get enough of those chunky, clunky, clicky black buttons wired up for navigation.

What’s the inside look like?

As you can see, it’s… quite small! And a lot of wasted space!

Clearly, this revision of the prototype was very close to the internals of the finished iPod. In fact, the date there — September 3rd, 2001 — tells us this one was made barely two months before it was introduced.

That little thing sticking out of the right side is a JTAG, which allowed for easier on-device debugging.

It has always been my deepest dream to smoothly unzip a backpack on a flight, theatrically pull out this incredible beast, plug in some headphones, and use it as my actual “portable” music player. Imagine the looks.

There it is. If you ask me, it’s always interesting to see where things came from before they got there. And it’s also quite rare, in Apple’s case.

So, happy birthday, iPod. Thanks for everything.

PS: One of my favorite Apple/iPod easter eggs was added in the 5th generation “video iPod”. At the bottom of the Legal screen, long before any emoji was baked into Unicode, there was a single solitary unimpressed little unicode snowman, intended for weather. This guy, right here: ☃. We could only find one (!) photo of this on the internet:

A (literally) small easter egg, but I loved this so much. It felt like classic Apple — engineers and designers just having a little fun before things got so big and serious — a tiny reminder that actual humans made the polished things I enjoyed. So of course, Apple removed it from a later firmware revision when the press noticed. Times were changing. (In solidarity, I registered https://☃.net.) But mostly I’m telling you this story so that now you’ll understand why there’s a single unimpressed snowman at the bottom of Playdate’s regulatory screen.

Help Wanted: Web Services Engineer (Portland, OR)

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Hello! Panic has an opening for a Web Services Engineer to join our award-winning team at our Portland, OR headquarters.

We’re looking for a Python developer with Django experience to help us maintain some of our existing web services and write some new ones!

We don’t currently support remote work, and would prefer to hire someone already in the Portland area, but we still encourage anyone to apply and would relocate someone within the USA if we can’t find a suitable local candidate. Please follow the link below to the job listing to see the other requirements for this position!

Now, it’s possible you might not think of Panic as much of a “web services” place. I get it. But there’s actually a lot going on over here! in addition to our rock-solid Panic Sync service, and our homegrown eCommerce platform (“Circle”, which just underwent a massive modernization rewrite), we have upcoming services needed for the next major update to Coda, as well as other very cool undisclosed future projects.

You’ll call a lot of shots, you’ll own a lot of things, and with any luck, it will feel pretty good. Sound interesting?

Head on over to our jobs page and submit your resume soon.

Also, there’s one other thing I want to mention again that’s not explicitly stated in the job posting: if you read our qualifications, feel like you’re really really close to matching them all but you’re missing one, or maybe you aren’t a super confident person or feel a touch of the ol’ imposter syndrome creep in as you read the page, please consider pushing through and applying anyway. None of us here are perfect geniuses or have it together 100% — we’re all just doing the best job we can, and I’m confident you can do that too.

We really look forward to hearing from you.