There have been insinuations that Gene Roddenberry came up with the idea for the iPad or even the flip phone, or that Leonardo da Vinci inspired a plethora of ideas that turned into modern technology, but this predictive design by inventor Kane Kramer in a patent filing in 1979 is about as close as one can get to detailing the design for the iPod.
The IXI was to use flash-based memory, had a display screen, quad-directional controls, and was supposed to be the size of a deck of playing cards. Sound familiar? As Gizmodo explains, he even had a vision for DRM:
He predicted DRM, though he didn’t go into many specifics, and in his one concession to the time, guessed that music would be bought on coin-operated machines placed in high-traffic areas. It’s creepy, really. Last year, Apple even brought him in to testify on their behalf—they weren’t at risk of being sued themselves, since his patent had expired. Pretty amazing, considering there wasn’t even internet at the time (he used telephone lines instead). Check out our article on the case in which Apple used his testimony for more info.
Did someone at Apple get a hold of this or was Kramer simply way ahead of his time? We may never know.