I May Not Be Able to Hold Your Phone, but I Can Count!

I have been accused of being a real devotee of the house that Steve built. I admit that yes, I do love me my Apple gear…

  • MacPro…check
  • MacBook Pro…check
  • iPod…check
  • AppleTV…check
  • iPad…check

I have drank the Kool-Aid and I want more. I am impatiently waiting for October so I can treat myself to an iPhone 4 for my birthday. I love-love-love-love Apple…

…but today, my dearest love punched me in the nose. Really, really hard.

From Mur Lafferty’s Twitter feed came a posting that made me go “Wow…just…wow.” Apple is celebrating Podcasting’s birthday with a celebratory banner (seen above), featuring many “trailblazers” of the medium. Very cool…until you note the birthday.

I was willing to scoff at Steve Jobs when he went on record to say “Folks who want porn can buy a Droid.” I was okay with a face-palm when Jobs told their iPhone 4 users “You’re holding the phone wrong.” All of Apple’s recent successes could just be making him giddy with elation…

Today, with me and a few others, a line was crossed. So for Steve Jobs and the folks at Apple, allow me — one of the authors of Podcasting for Dummies — to give you a brief history lesson.

Podcasting came into wide distribution in 2005 when iTunes recognized it, I’ll give you that; but podcasting had been around a bit longer than iTunes claims…and some of their “early adopters” were pre-dated by others. Podcasting for Dummies traces the first podcast back to August 2004 (although just today, I was shown an article penned by The Guardian’s Ben Hammersley where the term “podcasting” is used — thanks, @ghostfinder!) when Adam Curry and Dave Winer created the code in RSS that made the magic happen. Apple didn’t jump on to podcasting until nearly a year later. June 2005 with iTunes 4.9, if you should ask (PfD, Chapter 1, page 24). While it can be debated which came first — the RSS or the iTunes — the truth is that there were podcasts available as far back as 2004, some of them including:

  • The Dragon Page
  • Slacker Astronomy
  • Geek Fu Action Grip
  • Useful Sounds
  • Coverville
  • Escape Pod
  • The Radio Adventures of Doctor Floyd

…and a few others.

Many of those “few others” went omitted from the “Early Adopters” such as Mur Lafferty, Michael R. Mennenga, Evo Terra, Chuck Tomasi, Kreg Steppe, C.C. Chapman, Rob Walch, and Todd Cochrane. Podcast authors, including the early adopters such as myself, Mark Jeffrey, and Scott Sigler, went completely omitted.

I recall launching into this uncharted territory in 2005 with no help from Apple in the ways of distribution, and still I managed to find listeners around the world. I remember tracing the steps and working on roadmaps for people to try and avoid the pitfalls. I remember Steve Jobs condescendingly referring to podcasting as “the Wayne’s World of Audio” right before announcing that iTunes would provide a directory.

And I also remember when Apple made early adopters rewrite their RSS feeds in order to appear in said iTunes directory.

Still we managed through the up’s and down’s and the lack of a “real contact” at iTunes, particularly when it came to their “Show Approval” notices and rejections, and now, podcasting is rapidly approaching its birthday. We have now evolved into video, and there are still enhanced podcasts working their way through the podosphere. Some voices may have faded into the night, but more talent continues to appear on the iTunes Directory and share their thoughts with the world.

I do agree that this is a time for celebration. And gifts. So for you, Apple, I come bearing the gift of knowledge.

Now you know better. Happy birthday. In two months.


  1. History has been rewritten the Apple way….

    It’s not a big deal….

    Sent from Steve Jobs iPhone…..


    1. Well…at least he was holding his iPhone 4 properly. :p

      (Thank you, Paul, for that dose of snark. *LOL*)


  2. Poor apple.

    They mean well, really they do. See, I will give them the benefit of the doubt by reading “Podcasts 5 Turns” in a generous light to be an LOL-cat-esque way of saying “Yippee, it has now been 5 years that iTunes has recognized podcasts in the iTunes store. Yay us!”

    Poor apple…. oh, sorry, I mean “Applez teh Poors”


  3. I remember that time quite well, Apple coming into Podcasting gave the Medium a good boost but it definitely wasn’t the birth!

    By the time Apple came into Podcasts I was on close to 15 hours a week of podcast content listening, There was a lot of Excitement from some, and confusion by others. It took me a further 6 months before I moved over to using iTunes to get my Podcasts as standard RSS feeds did the job well and still do! (I’ve since reverted)

    Thanks for the Highlight Tee.


  4. Just another move by Apple to make it seem like you need an iPod to podcast. Shameful. Always remember ipodderX!


  5. Thanks for this, which made me remember “Radio UserLand”, so I found this piece of history through the Wikipedia article on “Radio UserLand”:

    Gilchrist, Harold (2005-02-19). “My contribution to Audioblogging/Podcasting”. Audioblogging 2.0. Retrieved 2008-08-15 http://radio-weblogs.com/0100368/stories/2005/02/19/myContributionToAudiobloggingpodcasting.html

    What I also remembered was that I never really “got” “Radio UserLand“, and that iTunes made Podcasts simple/possible to consume and that web-applications like Blogger and, later, WordPress made it possible to produce/distribute them


  6. Shame on them! I was listening to nearly all of those early podcasts you mention way back in the day, too. Too bad nothing counts until Apple gets involved!


  7. AMAZING POST! I actually marked the appearance of the podcast directory in iTunes in my calendar – June 28, 2005. The exact day (planned, of course) with the first episode of my THIRD podcast property – Scrapcast.com (now defunct). I started podcasting in September 2004. Besides being early to the party, I was one of the first WOMEN (not *the* first) to take to the Internet airwaves. Signed to Podshow after a nice run of **six-digit** sponsorships I earned on my own for my properties. Trust me when I understand about being left out of ‘history’ – a lot of the early guys are friends and continue to be to this day. I don’t have as much as a Wikipedia entry. I’m not bitter, I’ve just resigned to the fact that history gets written by those with power and money, and that, is Steve Jobs.


  8. PS – I’m friends with Harold Gilchrist (we live not far from each other) and were part of the original New Jersey Podcast Association over five years ago. If ANYONE got overlooked in podcasting history, I’d say it was Harold. Super sweet guy.


  9. Great post! I remember discovering podcasts when I worked a mindless data entry job. After reading your post, I looked back to see when I started that job. It was Aug 2004. At the time, I thought I was out of step and had missed something that had been going on for a while :-). BTW, my first podcast was “The Video Game Show” and I won a copy of Katamari Damacy from them.


  10. SO! I’m out of touch here, but did you ever get your iPhone 4? Despite reverse engineering podcast history, the Steve has created some lovely things to listen to podcasts on… the glass back on the 4 still freaks me out though.


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