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Pour one out for the iPod, the attractive little gadget of my teenage goals. Whereas Apple lastly discontinued the final iPod mannequin this week, the “pod” lives on within the digital audio medium all of us love and obsess over.

The iPod was by no means actually the format the place the podcast flourished (that will be the smartphone), however on the time podcasts had been getting began, the iPod was just about the one recreation on the town. In 2004, the iPod managed 60 p.c of the entire MP3 participant market. It was the default choice for listening to audio reveals on the go, if an inelegant one.

“It was a horrible expertise,” says Leo Laporte, founding father of early digital audio outlet This Week in Tech (TwiT) and host of radio present The Tech Man. “You needed to obtain it to your laptop, join your laptop by way of iTunes to your iPod, copy it over your iPod, after which you could possibly hearken to it.”

However with the gadget ubiquitous, the “podcast” identify appeared like a pure match for the scrappy on-line audio reveals that had been beginning to emerge. So pure that two folks declare to have individually merged “iPod” and “broadcast” collectively. The primary recorded occasion is in a 2004 Guardian article by journalist and technologist Ben Hammersley the place he threw round potential names for the medium (“GuerillaMedia” didn’t catch). That very same 12 months, digital audio pioneer Dannie Gregoire named certainly one of his software program packages “podcaster” and registered domains that includes the phrase “podcast,” then popularized it with the assistance of former MTV VJ and early podcast host Adam Curry. Gregoire says he had not been conscious of Hammersley’s article earlier than arising with the identify. “​​It’s an apparent phrase to give you, given the expertise,” he stated. Hammersley didn’t reply to request for remark.

Both method, it caught on. Apple not solely let the phrase reside, regardless of potential trademark infringement, nevertheless it embraced the medium wholeheartedly by making a podcast listing in iTunes in 2005. That very same 12 months, George W. Bush started releasing his presidential radio addresses in podcast type. The New Oxford American Dictionary took discover of all of the hubbub and made “podcast” its 2005 phrase of the 12 months.

Not everybody was thrilled. For years, Laporte fought — and misplaced — the battle to rebrand “podcasting” as “netcasting,” arguing that the phrase tied the shape too carefully to Apple. Time has confirmed him proper and improper. Sure, the iPod was a fleeting part within the run of podcasting. However the phrase outgrew its namesake to the purpose the place Apple is only one a part of the podcasting ecosystem and never even the dominant one. Spotify has taken its crown because the most-used platform for podcasting, and Apple’s podcast programming is minimal, at greatest.

Even so, the phrase is inescapable. A number of years in the past, Laporte relented and at last modified the TWiT Netcast Community to the TWiT Podcast Community. “That’s the best way language is,” he stated. “You possibly can’t struggle it.”


This story initially ran in Sizzling Pod, The Verge’s preeminent audio trade e-newsletter. You possibly can subscribe right here for extra scoops, evaluation, and reporting.

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