It was mid-October 2001. The country was reeling from the 9/11 attacks, but the folks at Apple sent out their invitations anyway. The event would unveil a new device that HQ had kept under tight wraps. All the invitation said was: “Hint: It’s not a Mac.” And it wasn’t. It was called the iPod—a “personal jukebox” that defines the ’00s the way the Sony Walkman did the ’80s. To date, more than 220 million iPods have been sold worldwide. The success is all the more amazing because Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player—it redefined it. Prior to the iPod launch, the devices on the market were ugly, weak and could barely hold one album. Apple added more capacity, stronger batteries and a space-age case by designer Jonathan Ive to the mix. What really drove it, though, was iTunes, Apple’s music store, which became a de facto standard for digital music. As Apple did its best to close off iTunes to competitors, the company enjoyed a near monopoly for most of the decade. —Robert Klara

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