Learn English – Origin of podcast


A podcast is typically a digital audio file distributed on the internet, to be downloaded for later listening on a computer or portable audio player.

What the origin of this word?

The Online Etymology Dictionary says:

2004, noun and verb, from pod-, from iPod, brand of portable media player, + second element abstracted from broadcast. Related: Podcasting.

I'd like to know more. How did this come about? How was it adopted? Who came up with and popularised it?

Best Answer


Journalist Ben Hammersley first suggested podcasting in February 2004 in the Guardian newspaper but it didn't catch on. Developer Dannie J. Gregoire later used podcaster in a mailing list for podcast app developers, seemingly independently, and it caught on and spread from there.


The Oxford English Dictionary recently added podcast and its variants. Here's their first-known dates and the antedatings I found:

podcast, n.     OED:  8 Oct 2004 -> 18 Sep 2004
podcast, v.     OED: 18 Oct 2004 -> 18 Sep 2004
podcasted, adj. OED: 20 Dec 2004 -> 29 Sep 2004
podcasting, n.  OED: 12 Feb 2004
General attrib. OED: 18 Oct 2004 -> 20 Sep 2004
podcaster, n.   OED: 19 Oct 2004 -> 15 Sep 2004

podcasting, n.

On 12th February 2004, Ben Hammersley wrote in the Guardian:

With the benefit of hindsight, it all seems quite obvious. MP3 players, like Apple's iPod, in many pockets, audio production software cheap or free, and weblogging an established part of the internet; all the ingredients are there for a new boom in amateur radio.

But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?

podcaster, n.

Yet the term didn't quite catch on amongst the early podcasters, who were still figuring out the technical ins and outs of creating and distributing podcasts. On 13th September 2004, Adam Curry created a tech discussion group called iPodder-dev.

On 16th September 2004, Dannie J. Gregoire wrote:

I can see there being the desire of users in some instances to be able to easily subscribe and get older posts/episodes/shows (what are we calling these things anyway? How about pode or sode for short?) that no longer appear on the rss feed. Right now if for example someone wanted to listen to all the Daily Source Codes back to sode #1, they would have to manually go through the archives and download any sodes not automagically received, somewhat defeating the purpose of an ipodder. Not too much of a problem now but...

I guess one could argue that this is simply an rss/server side issue, and that the "podcaster" (yes, I like making up new words) should be responsible enough to offer a page of seperate feeds of old sodes by month/year/season/etc.

Well, podes and sodes didn't catch on, but soon the developer community enthusiastically adopted podcast in all its forms and used them on the iPodder-dev list, in their applications and podcasts.

podcast, n. and v.

In his Evil Genius Chronicles podcast episode "Audioblog for Sept 18, 2004") (mp3) Dave Slusher says (from around the 16m10s mark):

Somebody has registered podcasting.net, and I saw podcaster, or podcaster.net and I saw podcaster hitting as a user agent hitting my RSS feed and I went and looked at it and right now it's just a coming soon page but I'm going to pay attention to that. I want to see who's got that and what they're doing but that term, I think they've coined the term. So "iPod platform" just doesn't spring from the tongue but what I'm doing right here, and what Adam [Curry]'s doing, and what Dave Winer's doing, and what IT Conversations are doing, that's podcasting. I think that is the term. I am using that from here on out. Y'know, so I am a podcaster, and they are podcasters, and I am podcasting right now, and you listen to my podcast. Fuckin' A! I'd like to know who this is, because you are one brilliant bastard! Goddamn that's a good term!

He also blogged briefly about it the same day.

podcasting, compounds, General attrib.

Dave Slusher's Evil Genius Chronicles again, in "Audioblog for Sept 20, 2004" (mp3) (from 24min):

You could run a pretty good web startup on this hudred-buck a month server that I rent so there's still no huge barrier to entry for a lot of classes of startups and I'm thinking in the terms of podcasting startups [...]. Arguably I guess IT Conversations is already the first podcasting network but we're going to see media startups based around the podcasting idea.

podcasted, adj.

Eric Rice, 29th September 2004, "Broadcast the Podcast":

Now, if I were to tell the developer team to make Audioblog.com MP3 files publish along with the player (as a user-selected toggle), and the user has an enclosure-friendly blog software, then that means every single phoned-in audioblog would be podcasted, blogcasted, and broadcasted.