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But we were the download generation, the denizens of the Wild West of modern-music culture, where anything and everything you desired could be yours -- not just to listen to, but also to be shaped by. I received my first tape cassette, Green Day's "Insomniac," when I was seven. I listened to it on the bus on a Sony Walkman. Yet by the age of 11, I'd already seen the future. I asked my parents for CDs that were blank and faceless, to fill with downloaded music from my older brother's Mac. It was the Napster age, but even then the ability to realign it all with the touch of technology made it it feel like something big was around the corner.

That something was the iPod, first released on October 12, 2001, This past Tuesday, Apple pulled the plug on v phone case the standalone MP3 player after a 13-year run, While its smaller incarnations, the iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano, live on, the company that moved the music industry to digital has finally sent the signal: it's long been over for the MP3, and now it's time to move on, I got my first iPod at age 13 as a gift, It was the third-generation model with the silky click-wheel and glowing red backlit buttons, It held 7,500 songs and only one other friend of mine in middle school had one, We often consorted over carrying around the future in our pockets, but we weren't alone for long, The iPod was a marvel, for sure, I had used CD players, stereos and cassette players for years, so I understood how absurd it was that a single device could hold that much music, To my parents, however, it was black magic..

They didn't understand, for one, how it was technically possible -- like many at the time -- but more importantly what it meant for music at large. Neither did we as kids. But we were less willing to hang on to the past and more open to the possibility of music consumption radically changing in the coming years. Apple's iTunes Store launched the year I received my iPod, with 200,000 songs. In three years time, the company sold its billionth track and iPods were everywhere. We, the reckless downloaders, saw it as a golden age. We existed in spite of iTunes' success because we were still on the right side of the digital music revolution -- the one that understood the supply of music could reasonably be infinite. It was glorious.

The culture clash wasn't always pleasant, In 2006, my father bought me the Red Hot Chili Peppers' recently released "Stadium Arcadium" CD as a gift, only to have me pronounce with pride at the dinner table that very same night that a friend had emailed me the MP3s a few hours earlier, To them, CDs were alive, music had value, and I was a symbol of the spoiled, instant-gratification-obsessed youth to whom album art and liner notes meant nothing, Music was a file, instead of something created by real human beings who needed our money to survive, In some ways, I felt, and v phone case still feel, the truth of that gross characterization..

But it was impossible to deny the effects of a culture overflowing with every slice of auditory art we could cram into a gigabyte. An artist's discography was like discovering an entire planet, our iPods becoming galaxies by way of which we could discover what kind of person we were, what we identified with and what our friends could teach us about themselves by handing over their personal MP3 puck. It was revelatory. Our lives always had soundtracks, and every facet of the iPod, from white earbuds to menu layouts, became a cornerstone of the modern generation's aesthetic. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, a devout music lover, had succeeded in infusing consumer culture with his ultimate gift: a daily life narrated and influenced by music of all types that was so accessible and natural that, like the Internet and cell phones, it's hard to image what life was like before the iPod.

"If anybody was ever wondering why is Apple on the earth," Jobs famously said in 2001, cradling a rudimentary first-generation iPod, "I would hold this up as a good example."Sometimes music collection became a pointless competition, Who could have more music, that was more elegantly categorized and complete and that represented a cooler, more exclusionary taste? The need to have it all -- the complete stylings of Biggie and Tupac and every Beatles B-side alongside "Kid A" and Wilco and the digitizations of decades-old legends -- was a crusade, Even then, it was a worthy cause, Our MP3s would last forever, we thought, unlike discs or cassettes or vinyl, Technology first empowered us, and then it v phone case proved us wrong..

All of that hasn't quite disappeared, but it's been diminished. The iPhone did away with files by constructing our mobile lives with applications. As iPods swelled in storage capacity, to 160GB by September 2009, iPhones got slimmer, faster and more feature-packed, but without more space. Even today, a top-of-the-line, $949 unlocked iPhone 6 Plus can't store as much as an iPod of five years ago. It doesn't have to. iPod sales staggered for the first time in 2009. Then they began dropping like rocks. Apple made almost 21 times more revenue last year on iPhones than it did on iPods. Subscription music services have a long way to go before they oust digital download sales, but the turning point came last year when, for the first time, digital downloads dropped -- by 1 percent to $2.8 billion annually. Streaming music grew 39 percent in 2013, to $1.4 billion.

Wired's Mat Honan, in an excellent piece titled "On Death and iPods: A Requiem," writes of the after effects of that switch, The single-use device is gone -- and with it, the very notion of cool that it once carried, The iPhone is about as subversive as a bag of potato chips, and music doesn't define anyone anymore, Soon there will be no such thing as your music library, There will be no such thing as your music, We had it all wrong! Information doesn't want to be free, it wants to be a commodity, It v phone case wants to be packaged into apps that differ only in terms of interface and pricing models, It wants to be rented..

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