Steve Jobs’s anger, why did he drown the first iPod?

steve jobs ipod

Steve Jobs, one of the founders of Apple and mythical CEO who passed away in 2011, is one of the most relevant characters in our modern history and more specifically in the technology sector and the apple company. Around his figure there are numerous anecdotes, curiosities and legends. One of the ones that perhaps arouses the most interest is that the first iPod drowned in a fish tank that, if you have never heard anything about it, we must tell you that it has its compelling reason (literally).

It was in 2011, one day after his death, when this anecdote was revealed by the well-known journalist David W. Brown (The Atlantic, The New York Times…). On that occasion, W. Brown claimed to know this story first-hand thanks to a former employee of the Cupertino company, with whom he discussed the figure of Steve Jobs. Obviously we are not going to come here now to deny him 11 years later, but like everything that revolves around the genius of sweater and jeans, there is a fine line between legend and reality.

The first and failed iPod prototype

I do not know exactly when this story took place, but if we take into account that it revolves around one of the first prototypes of the iPod and that it was not presented until October 2001, we can guess that it is something that happened at the beginning of this 21st century. The interesting thing comes with the context and that is when several of the engineers dedicated to the development of this device came with a iPod final pseudo-prototype to Jobs’ office.

Steve, as reported by W. Brown, took that prototype in his hands, tinkered with it, and watched it for not long. He then gave a verbal signal of rejection. The astonished workers witnessed the anger of the boss and they could not believe it after so much time of work until arriving at what they considered the final work.

“There is still space here”

Jobs, far from giving an explanation of the anger as any other would in a similar situation, took the prototype in his hand and approached an aquarium that was in the room and, without any hesitation, he dropped it and let it sink. Addressing the engineers, he pointed to the fish tank and said:

“Those are air bubbles […] That means there’s room in there. Make it smaller.”

The CEO of the company intended in this curious way to point out an error that, in his opinion and that of many, was quite relevant. The philosophy of “the smaller, simpler and more minimalist the better” applied perfectly to the situation, as Jobs understood that if there was space inside the device, it meant that its overall size could be further reduced. And, although some prototypes have emerged, it is not known with certainty what it would be. Be that as it may, we know that in the end it ended up being a device that both Jobs and millions of people around the world fell in love with.

genuine ipod

Was it a fish tank with piranhas?

Precisely around this we remember a story that, in this case at least, looks more like a myth than reality. And it is said that Jobs had an aquarium with piranhas in his office. Given how related this alleged legend is to this fact of the iPod, there are those who believe that it is the same element and that the music player lay next to these carnivorous fish.

We cannot deny it, but neither can we confirm it. In any case, it is clear that what was Apple’s most revolutionary device in the early 2000s and ultimately the company’s savior, had to go through innumerable tests and prototypes until it found the ideal model that would convince good old Jobs.