The Audion Story (and a design lesson)

The folks at Panic Software have a wonderful story up that, although it’s long, is really worth the read. It brings back memories of that heady period when everything seemed like a mystery over the horizon, when we felt like we could do *anything*. It has the “startup” story, the references to stuff that Mac users from the period will certainly remember and may have already forgotten, and some great insights about design.

Panic – Extras – The True Story of Audion

Audion, for Mac users of 1999-2001 or so, the MP3 player of choice. At least, among those of us who loved beautiful things on our desktops. It was Mac-like, through and through, with lovely attention to detail.

But when iTunes hit, it changed everything. As explained here:

iTunes was, of course, and I’ll say this now, brilliant. It single-handedly taught us an entirely new philosophy on software design. Do you really need that Preference that 1% of your users will use? Can you find a better way to design that interface than having each function in a separate window? Can you clean this up, even if it means it’s a little less flexible? iTunes blazed the trail for clean, efficient software design for a broad audience, a design philosophy we practice actively today. It was a way to take a complicated digital music collection, and make it easy. Sure, it was limited, but man was it easy.

I think we’re all still trying to learn this.

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at