On time, space, and shared music tastes.

By: Erin

Posted: June 10th, 2024

Recently, I bought two iPods. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I used to love my iPods growing up, and how I no longer engage with music as intentionally as I used to. After using my old iPod Touch on a plane ride and thoroughly enjoying myself, I asked around online to see if there were any modern MP3 players worth getting that wouldn’t break the bank, and the overwhelming consensus was that you should just hack an iPod because with an iFixit kit and the right parts it was surprisingly easy to do. The 2nd generation Mini was said to be the cheapest and easiest, and the 5th Generation or 5.5 Classic was the most popular and had the most mods available for it. I had a Mini growing up until it broke and I replaced it with a Nano, but I had never had a Classic. One trip to a pawn shop and eBay later, I owned both!

The 5th Gen was from the pawn shop. I got it discounted because it wouldn’t turn on but it worked fine when I charged it!

One of my favorite things to do when stumbling upon or being gifted old media players is to go scavenging. I got a bunch of Sonata Arctica albums from my brother this way, as well as a few AFI songs I really like! These were no different. Once I had charged them up, I got to scrolling.

iPods are such a specific time capsule for so many people. I know there are people still using them today – like, you know, myself – but most people used them in the early-to-late 00s, maybe early 2010s at most. As such, most music on an iPod consists of certain eras – for example, one of these iPods had Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent on it, which I gladly copied to my computer. Both iPods had a lot of treasure on them, things like The Beatles’ 1 or Abba’s Gold Collection. The 5th Generation (which was named “GZILLI’S IPOD”) was the most interesting to me, because apart from the collection of 80s and 00s hits, it had some fascinating tracks that really painted a picture of the previous user.

I don’t know who Gzilli was. I will never meet this person. But I do know that whoever they were, they enjoyed Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and various musicals, even owning the Original London Cast Recording album for Les Miserables. We both had Hot Fuss by The Killers on our iPods, and The Fame by Lady Gaga. I was amused to find an Enya album, but not the album with her biggest hit, Only Time. There was a Barenaked Ladies album, but it was a live album full of songs I had never heard in my life. This iPod was how I learned that Santigold released her first album under the title “Santogold” before later changing her name. There were multiple Chemical Brothers and Girl Talk albums here. If nothing else, Gzilli and I would have bonded over our music tastes.

There was one moment in all my scrolling that really moved me. When I was looking through the album list, I saw In Ghost Colours. I thought to myself “surely not”, but no, it was in fact independent Australian synthpop band Cut Copy’s debut album – one of my favorite albums ever! It really gave me pause. Somehow, someone presumably in Ohio donated an old iPod to a pawn shop just down the road from me, and that person knew and listened to the same obscure band that I discovered in college and even played on my radio show. Heck, maybe they found the band through my show.

Okay, probably not. No one listened to my radio show. But this person liked Cut Copy so much they even had their second album! That’s so cool.

In the time following my purchase of these iPods I’ve bought a pre-modded model from Elite Obsolete Electronics. I wanted to see what a modded one would feel like in the hand, and it’s an extremely sexy beast.

I love the clear shell – it reminds me of my original Game Boy.

I’ve loaded it with my old iPod’s music, tons of CDs I’ve ripped, and even the Adventure Time episode What Was Missing, something that meant the world to me in college as I watched my iTunes-purchased copy of it. However, I actually don’t use it much anymore! That’s because to experiment with how to do iPod mods myself, I ended up taking apart the Mini and replacing the battery and changing the hard drive to a 128GB MicroSD card.


Maybe it’s because the Mini was my first iPod. Maybe it’s the weight, the aluminum shell, or the simplicity of the monochrome screen. Maybe it’s because it’s just that much more responsive than the 5.5th Gen. Whatever the reason, this iPod Mini is my daily driver. I’ve been having an amazing time using it at work or when working out. It’s loaded with music and a few podcasts, and I’ve been taking time to truly listen and re-listen to whole albums all over again, as well as music I hadn’t listened to in years. It’s nice, and I’m looking forward to bringing it on my next plane trip.

Ah jeez, that’s me.

Anyway, this was a journey that lead me all around the city. To Gzilli and whoever owned this Mini before me, I salute you both. I hope you know that your old iPods are in a loving home. One day I’ll be performing my own case and hard drive mods on Gzilli’s 5th Generation, and I’ll toss some pictures up when I’ve done that, but I’m in no hurry. Right now I’m just enjoying jamming to Cut Copy.