What five technologies have made our lives easier, better, and more efficient? Hard to choose, right? Well, inspired by the next tech advancement, Intel smart TV, we've done it for you. Last week we brought you the CPU. Today: the pocket-rocking iPod.

The Smartest Advancements in Technology Series: The iPod

It's hard to believe that the iPod made its debut just 9 short years ago. Seriously, what did people listen to on the subway before its release: Gramophones? Cassingles? The sounds of homeless people jingling change in their cups? We can't even remember that far back. For a product that wouldn't even be in fourth grade if it magically became human (although if it did, it would be the most popular kid ever), the iPod has an incredibly robust history. Here are some highlights:

We Could All Be Listening to DAPs

The Smartest Advancements in Technology Series: The iPod

Kane Kramer, master inventor and king of alliterative names, claims that in 1981, before the iPod was even a glimmer in Steve Jobs' eye, he developed an idea for the pocket-sized Digital Audio Player. Too bad he didn't also create a bunch of ads featuring undulating silhouettes dancing to catchy indie songs—his big idea might have really caught on.

Ancestral Pods

Originally developed under the code name Dulcimer (Little known fact: Steve Jobs' great-uncle, Pappy Jobs, was a expert bluegrass musician until his untimely death in a moonshine still explosion), the iPod has had many faces since its initial debut. The neo-historians behind this site expertly curated a gallery of every single iPod model ever released, thus insuring its legacy for generations to come. Never forget, guys. Never forget.

Before They Were Famous

There is something really disconcerting about watching this video of Steve Jobs introducing the original iPod. On one hand, 2001 really wasn't that long ago, on the other hand this looks as if it was filmed in a high school gymnasium in Idaho in, like, 1978. Is that a slide projector running his presentation? My, my, how times have changed.

1,000 Songs in Your Toaster

The Smartest Advancements in Technology Series: The iPod

They're for more than just playing music. And playing movies. And taking pictures. And surfing the web. And playing games. And reading books. With the right tools, anyone who didn't fail middle school shop class can now turn their outdated iPod into a lovely doorstop, or a video projector, or a cigarette case, or a tracking device. When someone figures out how to make a first-gen iPod cook pizza pockets, please let us know.

Well, that's it for our Smartest Advancements in Technology Series. Let's give one more big round of applause to our picks: the telescope, the MRI, the ATM, the CPU, and today's guest—the iPod.

Where would humankind be without the iPod? And we'll be asking ourselves that same question about Intel smart TV sooner than later, because the combination of Internet and television is surely the next in line in the Smartest Advancements in Technology all-time rankings. Click here to find out more about Intel smart TV!