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Steve Jobs (1955–2011), Jeff Robbin (dates unavailable), Bill Kincaid (b. 1956), Dave Heller (dates unavailable)
“The music business at the end of the 20th century was in an epic fight to maintain its profitable business model. Music had become 1s and 0s and was being widely shared, without compensation, among users through online services such as Napster. The industry was filing suit against both the services and their users to protect copyrights.
Apple cofounder Steve Jobs saw an opportunity and in 2000 purchased SoundJam MP, a program that functioned as a music content manager and player. It was developed by two former Apple software engineers, Bill Kincaid and Jeff Robbin, along with Dave Heller, who all took up residence at Apple and evolved the product into what would become iTunes.
iTunes debuted on January 9, 2001, at Macworld Expo in San Francisco. For the first two years, iTunes was promoted as a software jukebox that offered a simple interface to organize MP3s and convert CDs into compressed audio formats. In October 2001, Apple released a digital audio player, the iPod, which would neatly sync with a user’s iTunes library over a wire. This hardware release set the stage for the next big evolution, which came with iTunes version 4 in 2003—the iTunes Music Store, which launched with 200,000 songs. Now users could buy licensed, high-quality digital music from Apple.
Buying music from a computer company was a radical concept. It flipped the traditional business model and gave the music industry an organized, legitimate mechanism in the digital space to profit from, and protect, their intellectual property.
The music labels agreed to participate in the iTunes model and allowed Jobs to sell their inventory in part because he agreed to copy-protect their songs with Digital Rights Management (DRM). (Apple significantly eased the DRM-based restrictions for music in 2009.) Consumers embraced iTunes in part because they could buy single songs again—no longer did they have to purchase an entire album to get one or two tracks.
In the following years, iTunes would snowball into a media juggernaut adding music videos, movies, television shows, audio books, podcasts, radio, and music streaming—all of which were integrated with new products and services from Apple, including Apple TV, the iPhone, and the iPad.”
SEE ALSO MPEG (1988), Diamond Rio MP3 Player (1998)
Apple’s Steve Jobs announces the release of new upgrades to iTunes and other Apple products at a press conference in San Francisco, California, on September 1, 2010.