back to article Ten years old: the world's first MP3 player

The MP3 player is ten years old this month. The first commercially released personal music player capable of handling MP3 files was the MPMan F10, manufactured by Korea's Saehan Information Systems and launched in March 1998. The F10 contained 32MB of Flash storage, enough for a handful of songs encoded at 128Kb/s. It measured …

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  1. Glenn Gilbert

    Interesting why Sony were so late to play

    It would be interesting to find out why Sony were so late to the market. They were uniquely placed with their existing Walkman brand to almost seize the market, but instead let Apple take it from under their nose.

  2. Simon
    Heart

    Philex Mpress

    Wow, i had to have a look through my drawer and found my old Philex Mpress player. Its vintage 2000 (Maybe earlier?).

    It has a horrible plastic look about it, internal 32meg with an additional 32meg memory card stuck in it (The card looks like a square dinner plate, its huge).

    It was connected to a PC via a cable going to the printer port and was so slow to download music onto it that I had lost interest in the tunes I was putting on it by the time it was done.

    I remember listening it and shaking it with glee noting how the music didnt skip, aww, those were the days...

  3. Mark W

    @Glenn - Sony

    You have to remember two things;

    1: Sony was trying to push ATRAC and MiniDisc as a going concern.

    2: Ultimately they owned a record label who forbade them from using MP3.

    It wasn't until the 2nd Gen ipods were around that Sony eventually relented from their atrac stance and allowed MP3's to be used. By then it was just too late.

  4. Peter D'Hoye
    Thumb Up

    WOW, is it 10 years already?

    I still have one of those jazpiper 32MB players that came out around the same time. Unusable since I no longer have a parallel port...

    And while I'm typing this here: Many people have an old (but not that old) mp3 player they do not use anymore, but which they could give new life by loading Rockbox on it.

    Rockbox is an alternative firmware that runs on many 'old' and newer players.

    Get it (and check if your player is supported) on http://www.rockbox.org/

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Glenn - Sony had the MD

    I think Sony weren't interested in MP3 at the time because they were pushing (in their own peculiarly ineffective way) MiniDisc players (and ATRAC)...

    There are many discussions on line about what might have happened if they made a minidisc player that could play MP3 files - it was a good medium.

  6. michael

    *sob* thouse where the days

    I rember my first mp3 player a cheep one with 16mb yes 16mb of memory and the size of a pack of cards but it is my second one I will allways rember mainley cos it fitted on my wirst

  7. jai

    re: Interesting why Sony were so late to play

    i expect Sony were so late because they were still trying to get the world to believe in minidisc

    i seem to recall they ended up making a MDplayer that you could hook up to the pc and download mp3 files to

    got to admit, i was very dubious of the mp3 'revolution' - being a minidisc person all through the 90s. it was only the arrival of the iPod (being an Apple fanatic) that convinced me to switch

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Rumours

    I've heard fairly reliable rumours that Sony had a prototype hard disk walkman long before the iPod went on sale, but the project was killed at the behest of the BMG part of the business.

    Oops and indeed, oops.

  9. Mike Richards

    @Glenn

    Sony were late because they're not a monolithic company. Sony Electronics were more than willing to get into the player market, but Sony Records were not keen on the idea unless they could find a technological solution to copying (good luck guys) - which is why we've had to put up with SonicStage.

    Apple, has no such split personality and jumped into the gaping hole that said 'make something for the average person' which had traditionally been Sony's preserve.

  10. robert

    I had one of those

    the MPMAN.. swapped it for my minidisk player in 6th year at school when some boy got it for xmas and didnt want it

  11. Dan

    The First One ?

    blimey. I've got one of these in a cupboard at home. Didn't realise it was the first one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The casio mp3 watch

    I have an ancient casio mp3 watch at home (a present, not the kind of thing i'd buy!) Actually, it was pretty good for exercising with, and I could fit a good 20 or so tunes in the 32mb of memory with some careful tweaking of the mp3 encoder (goodbye stereo, hello 22khz :)

    Unfortunately, it was yet another product that had potential but was let down by absolutely awful software. Praise be to itunes, you have your deficiencies, but at least you woke up the rest of the market and cleared all of that crap out.

  13. Les
    Jobs Halo

    Thomson Lyra

    Another early player - used CF cards for content (I seem to recall a *huge* 32MB card). The fun bit was the parallel port card reader, which worked just fine under NT4, but didn't like Windows 2000 at first, which dates it to around 1999 or thereabouts.

    It had a big enough display to tell you what was playing, wasn't all that big for the time, and worked moderately well.

    I think I've still got it somewhere....

  14. Jared Earle
    Happy

    @GG

    Sony failed because they wanted us to use ATRAC on MiniDiscs. They refused to listen to sense until the dust had already settled.

    I went from stacks of Walkmans to MiniDisc to Rio500 to iPod(s) to iPhone but the Rio was my first properly digital player. The Rio even worked with iTunes on OS9 back in the day. Ah, heady days of one album per memory card and a firmware upgrade to let 64MB cards work. Scarily, I could probably lay my hands on all the iPods, the MD and the Rio. Maybe I should nostalgically use the Rio one day this week out of respect.

    ps. I now have Menieres Disease (ear disorder) and I wonder how much damage was caused by spending the 80s and 90s with headphones on.

  15. Ernest

    MiniDisc

    Sony were probably still up their own backside in love with MD (MiniDisc). While it was great and funky to own over a CD Discplayer, they should have spotted the mp3 player sooner with no moving parts... I guess they were too arrogant.

    I love sony but sometimes they are up themselves too much. Apple brought them down to earth in the music player world

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    MPMan F20.

    I had a F20 - that boasted a smart memory card slot on top of the 32MB internal memory. Not that I ever got a memory card, way too pricey back then.

    I'd actually won it from a precursor of toluna and similar sites, it was really early days for those sites too, which made it easy to grab a decent prize, and it was a time when signing up for offers didn't mean you had to put in credit card details.

    It was possible to fit 7 or 8 songs at 128kbps on it for about 30min, which actually made it quite nice for my short commute back then.

    It felt really light too, which was a nice change from the old walkman or cd player back then.

    I've still got it somewhere, although I think I've lost the cable. So I might be stuck with the same 8 songs from 1999/2000!

  17. Dave
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Interesting why Sony were so late to play

    Sony were "so late" because until very recently they still believed that minidisk was the future, and blindly kept trying to force their own standards such as atrac.

    This is also the reason the entire industry is so stunned at the bluray victory, Sony have never before won a format war!

  18. Rob
    Paris Hilton

    Quality

    I had one of these just after the MPMan I believe, unfortunately I can't remember exactly what it was called, I remember having to make my mp3's VBR as it was the only way to get a whole album on there, it was fantastic

    Paris, as she's probably got about as much in her head as the MPMan had (actually, theres probably a hell of a lot more empty space)

  19. Stuart Gray

    @Glenn

    Because sony already had their digital player, the MiniDisc, which was a higher quality sound than MP3. Of course, the file format was proprietary (ATRAC), and although it was licensed quite widely, Sony never really marketed the idea, not made it simple for users to download from the Internet (although ripping CDs is simple). Now of course, the Sony Connect Store is closed, so the only easy way is to rip CDs again.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And, 10th birthday for...

    ...RIAA stupidity.

    The handwriting was clearly on the wall in 1998 -- even earlier if you consider the likes of DAT and other digital recording capability that became available to the general consumer market.

    So I continue to have less than zero sympathy for the music industry and the RIAA. They've had over 10 years to drag their dinosaur-like business model into the 21st century and still haven't managed to do so.

  21. Alex Walsh
    Pirate

    It's name was Rio

    I had one of those Rio players on release. The idea was great but it took years for the storage capacity increase and pricing drop before players became any cop.

  22. Stu
    Thumb Up

    Wow!

    Amazing bit of old tech there.

    The Archos Jukebox 6000 was my first MP3 player. I didn't realise it came out only two years along from this old beastie, it was 6Gb instead of 32Mb!!

    Painful to use, battery life sucked really badly due to the HD, it was slow to use and doing so drained the battery even more! But all that capacity was groundbreaking. Plus it used NiMh battery chemistry!!

    Many years later I went for a 1st gen iPod Nano at 4Gb, effectively a downgrade in capacity but infinitely better in all aspects.

    .

    Would I be right in surmising that MP3 players are the primary drive behind the meteoric rise in flash based memory capacities? That and USB memory sticks of course.

  23. A Gould

    I still have my PMP300...

    ...but no parallel port to plug it into.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    RE

    'Apple's move to allow Windows PC owners to use the iPod, from April 2003, resulted in explosive growth'

    Firstly, Apple didn't make the ipod. They blatently ripped off creative and ended up paying millions in damages.

    Secondly, in 2003 mp3's were relatively unheard of outside of technology and gadget circles. Apple employed their usual 'throw shedloads of money at marketing' tactic and came up with a sleek design, that put ipod in the minds of the masses as the first mp3 player and a must have item. It had nothing to do with opening itunes up to windows, just clever hype marketing.

    Thirdly, compared to other mp3 players, the ipod is crap but is the more recognised brand and personally even if it was the best on the planet, my hard earned cash is never going to fund the 'church of jobs'

  25. Matt Major
    Happy

    got one

    I have a MPMan F10 here, still works.

    was gonna chuck it on ebay, wonder what it's worth

  26. Jonathan

    @Glenn

    Sony were late to the party because they couldnt get their heads round the idea that portable music meant digital music.

    They wanted something to control, a revenue stream, and the prospect of people sharing music, or even purchasing only the good songs from an album and not the fillers, terrified them.

    So its no surprise they put it off - they didnt want to kill the CD business, which they mistakenly thought was the future.

  27. robert cooke

    my poor old rio...

    fell out of my pocket on the way home, shame i was riding a motorbike. it was very dead, i recovered it beofre it got splattered by any cars, but it was very dead. now i've got an 8GB sony erricson. 32MB, pah. i threw away the 32MB card from my camera and put a 2GB card in. it's amazing how data requirements have grown so much.

  28. Simon Harris

    @Glenn Gilbert.

    Weren't Sony still pushing minidisc and ATRAC encoding as the format for portable digital music players at the time?

    If I did my sums correctly, 32Mbytes at 128kbits/second as in the early players is only 34 minutes of music, while a minidisc at the time could store 80 minutes of music at a bit rate of nearly 300kbits/second on a cheap re-writeable disc.

  29. Ian payne

    I had one

    32mb memory with a parallel port connection that took so long to put the music on the thing, I still remind my friend about the time he said that i was wasting my money on this mp3 thing he insisted that mini-disc was the future.

  30. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    Sony, MiniDisc etc

    Sony had digital music players out long before Apple did - some nice ones too. Yes, they used ATRAC, but no, they weren't sidelined because of Sony's love of MiniDisc. Like many other such players, they were just too darned expensive and - crucially IMHO - had too small a capacity.

    But Sony's kit was a darn sight better looking than all the plastic rubbish coming out of Taiwan and Korea at the time.

  31. Neil Hoskins
    Joke

    But Shirley...

    ...Apple invented the MP3 player, just like they invented the smartphone?

  32. /etc
    Jobs Horns

    ATRAC?

    "[Sony] were uniquely placed with their existing Walkman brand to almost seize the market, but instead let Apple take it from under their nose."

    Its been said that Sony opted for really obnoxious DRM and that that was their downfall. I don't know if their players would *only* play atrac and not MP3, but if so, there's your answer. What kind of idiot would buy atrac files, or encode their own stuff to atrac, and by doing so lock themselves completely into Sony?

    Sony do seem to have a fixation with DRM, even violating their customers' trust and engaging in certainly unethical and probably illegal behaviour in pursuit of "protecting" Sony-BMG content:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/11/10/sony_sued_for_rootkit/

    Apple, by contrast, tries to tip the balance towards the end-user. I think that's helped Apple's sales, although it has annoyed the labels, who now seem to be trying to cut out the iTMS by denying it some content. But Apple did originally persuade the music labels to allow fairly generous terms on the iTMS and the labels were happy enough to go along with that. You could certainly get better deals from the iTunes Store than the deals Microsoft's "partners" (the "partners" they were later to shaft with the Zune) were offering with PlaysForSure -- and those good terms may have helped sell iPods. But the main point of a portable has always been not downloads but that you could rip your CDs and put them on there.

    Steve Ballmer was way out of line when he claimed most tracks on portables are "stolen":

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/04/ballmer_ipod_thieves/

    Most content on iPods (and other portables) -- _pace_ the Monkey Boy -- seems to be rips of people's *own* CDs. But maybe Ballmer has changed his tune now the Zune is available for sale.

  33. Webster Phreaky
    Gates Horns

    OMG!! Rewriting Apples "rewritten" iPud History!! Big Trouble!

    You're in Big Trouble now! Little bastard Stevie Jobs has spent the last less than a decade convincing the World that he, the Great iNOvator, Invented the Pocket Media Player! Now you've undone all that PR Bullshit that Apple has spent so much time on!

    What Next??

    Un-rewrite the history that the Newton wasn't before the Psion, or a host of other "one-piece" computers like the Kay Pro and Osborne were before the Mac, or a host of other Apple phony iNOvator claims, or the greatest atrocity that there were GUI Smart Phones before the iPhony!!??

    The Great iNOvator Stevie is probably right now ramping up the Apple PR canons!

  34. Jared Earle
    Alert

    @AC, MP3s unheard of in 2003?

    In 2003, Napster had already been shut down for two years. Everybody+Dog had heard of MP3s by 2001.

    I'll let someone else deal with the "Apple didn't make the ipod" bollocks; it's an obvious troll and I'm not falling for it.

  35. robert cooke
    Jobs Horns

    hahah, ipod.

    my friend, bless her wanted an ipod, i told her to get anything but an ipod, but she wanted one "because it's pink" this was 6 years ago, if that's the mentality people have when buying technology is it no wonder apple are still in business?

  36. Dennis
    Stop

    @AC

    wow such vitriol!

    firstly: so what? they could afford to.

    secondly: that'd be a good thing for the rest of the market surely?

    thirdyly: I think thy're pretty good/get a life.

    The way I see it itunes won the day becuase it's actually usable.

    And surely if the ipod looked good and works well then that's a good thing?

    for the record, I have a 2nd gen nano which get's well abused and it's still going strong (witht he exception of the shite headphones that went in the bin early doors for a new pair of shures), no other apple products. I use wintel at work AND home.

  37. TS

    Rio had problems

    It had a horrible battery life. Not that it used a lot of power, but the battery door wouldn't stay closed and the battery would fall out. A lot of people had problems with that, and it just didn't look as sexy with a rubber band holding the door closed.

    I used it for a long time, but eventually upgraded to something with more memory.

  38. Léon
    Happy

    Re: I still have my PMP300...

    Well, there exist LPT/USB convertors but the price of these roughly equals that of a new device ;)

    Btw, if you can't use the Diamond software, try Dreaming of Brazil

  39. Ash

    Ahhh, MiniDisc...

    I remember being sold a minidisc player at my local Dixons about 10 years ago (still at college, a little green as far as technology and sales pitches went). I bought one for £200 which came with a USB adapter and claimed it could "record MP3's to MiniDisc!" I even asked the guy who showed me the model, who said it would do it.

    And it did! MP3's were recorded to minidisc as raw audio, and I ended up £200 down on kit that didn't do as promised, or so I thought.

    So I don't buy Sony licensed music anymore :D

  40. Andy Kay
    Thumb Up

    Rio! hahah

    I still have my 32MB Rio in some storage box :) ahh how I loved to hear the same 8 tracks over and over again at school... everybody thought the MiniDiscs were the next big thing - at a time when I was running around with my non-moving part MP3 player.... - oh how I laugh now ;)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sony

    Sony realised around 2000 that they needed to get into the market, so they started releasing ATRAC players using flash Memory (using, of course, Memory Sticks). They had dreadful PC software but the players themselves were quite nice; I had the NW3 I think. Now, the word at the time was that they wanted to use these players to push Memory Sticks and didn't want to take the HDD route at all.

  42. Gregg Stuart
    IT Angle

    Sony

    Sony won the Blu-Ray wars beacuse they finally managed to co-ordinate three different parts of teh business - consumer electronics, games division and the movie division, all three being one of the biggest players in their respective markets. If they can keep doing that with future product launches then watch out.

    I still don't use a lot of MP3's, i'm still a CD and dare i say it Vinyl man.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @Jared

    http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2006/08/24/apple_settles_with_creative/

    $100mil

    'nuff said

    http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/4380.cfm

    Showing sales only really started in 2003, i.e. when mp3s had been brought to the attention of the masses and sales suddenly tripled. I stand by what I said, before that they were in the realm of techies and gadget freaks

  44. Steven Foster

    Probably arrived late to the scene, but...

    My first MP3 player was a Creative Jukebox. The 20GB model I believe. Looked just like a CD player. Still works as well! I think before that I was using an MP3 CD player, which at the time amazed all my friends.

    I may still have that as well, haha.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So funny to see people suffer with non Apple MP3 players

    I think it's funny when someone bashes Apple, uses a 3rd party MP3 player, and then you see them struggle with the software, or user interface, or poor battery life, or inability to handle lossless compression, etc. etc.

    I just laugh at anyone who doesn't use iTunes or an iPod for MP3s.

    If you are using an iPod kudos. Whether you chose it because you liked the color, or the technical merits of being able to scroll to your artist faster, or knowing the chips used internally and the battery are better than the competitors doesn't matter. You made the right choice.

    Anyone who doesn't like the iPod or iTunes.... do you use Windows as an OS? Because if you do, you cannot claim to take the high road and be choosing products based on quality. If you use a non-Windows OS, ok, you're still ok in my book.

    iPod on.

  46. Bill Cumming
    Thumb Up

    I still have mine!

    I've still got one of those F10's in the back of a storage box in the loft :D

    It was great (at the time) was a lot flashier than those minidisk guys at my College who could not believe that it didn't need disks..... lol!!

  47. W
    Coat

    MiniDisc and Betamax actually won!

    I had my hopes pinned on DCC personally.

    When that lost out to Minidisc, I was gutted.

    As for Betamax thrashing the CED format...

    Sony for teh win111one!!1

  48. Daniel B.
    Boffin

    Ah so it wasn't the Rio after all...

    I always thought about Rio, but then, I heard about the Rio MP3 player until late 2000. Hell, 10 years ago I was leeching mp3's from FTP sites that came and went around the net, the olden days before P2P, Napster or Audiogalaxy. (In my opinion, Audiogalaxy was the best of those first-gen P2Ps 'coz the "central node" managed all the file-finding and stuff, but that's another story.) Heh, I had a Walkman back then ... with "digital" stuff like auto-searching FM/AM stations, 20 presets, and AVLS (so I wouldn't hurt my eardrums with excessive sound).

    MP3's were not "obscure stuff" by 2003. Anyone under 21 would have known mp3's by then, as when the format became "popular" (1998), it quickly spread amongst college and highschool students worldwide. Proof of it is that I returned from my school vacation to find lots of my buddies showing off their 300+ "CD-Quality" music collections fitting in 600Mb. Ok, my school went into a compulsory "student+laptop" program on that same year, so that and campus broadband helped a bit.

    The iPod came out as a "rich kiddie" toy, nice but expensive, and Mac-only, which that alone excludes like 90%+ of the whole market. Even when it went Windows, I didn't like it because it's expensive, and the iTunes requirement. The quantity of mp3's I now have is so huge I prefer segmenting it into folders, and I copy those folders using mass-storage protocols instead. My sister's got an iPod, and prefers to let iTunes synch whatever there is to the iPod than spend 8 hours ticking/unticking checkboxes.

    Me? I used to have my W300, with an iPod-ish menus and my only complain was having to traverse the lists. My current Blackberry has text-searching and the "trackball" so that isn't even a problem anymore. ;) I would've liked Sony to do the mp3 Walkman back then. Oops!

  49. Mage Silver badge

    Net MD

    I still can't beleive there is no way to digitally read YOUR OWN microphone recordings from a sony netMD.

    My first computer hard drive was FULL height (i.e. twice size current CD/DVD drives) 5.25" 5MByte. My pocket sized Archos PMP has 160GByte, 27 years later... I got fed up messing with SD cards.

  50. PaulGillingwater
    Happy

    How could you forget the EmPeg?

    Sure, it's not a mobile device... but it was a British design, and my one still works just fine. A lovely piece of engineering for its time, first shipped in 1999...

    see http://www.empeg.com/

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @"I just laugh at anyone who doesn't use iTunes or an iPod for MP3s."

    I can only assume that's a troll.

    I use the MP3 player that's built into my telephone. It currently has a 4GB memory card which holds as much music as I ever need. No DRM on it either. I use the radio sometimes too.

    iPod? iDon'tthinkso.

  52. Wonderkid
    Pirate

    What about this, (concept) from 1988...

    http://www.owonder.com/udis

    (We were about to build it, but the young Standford engineers we bought in were too flaky, so the MPMan ended up being first. We did begin talks with Saehan about them building us a custom version, but then the Rio came out, so the project was canned. It's no good being second or third! Less motivation. The rest is iHistory!)

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC

    "Apple employed their usual 'throw shedloads of money at marketing' tactic and came up with a sleek design..."

    How dare they! When will companies learn that if there is one thing which is verboten, it is making a product look nice and then marketing it!

    There are problems with the ipod, and I personally found most of the marketing silly - but the device is more than usable, and the marketing obviously worked. It's not Apple's job to make a tiny percentage of IT dorks happy; it's their job to sell shit. And sell it they have.

    *rolls eyes*

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:Daniel B

    'Anyone under 21 would have known mp3's by then, as when the format became "popular" (1998)'

    That isn't really an argument that they were well known by 2003. It may come as a shock to know this, but younger people usually are the first to adopt new technology. This does not make them the majority though as there are far more people OVER the age of 21, and they tend to be the ones with the disposable income to afford to buy things. So while you and your mates were quite happily ripping CDs to your players and leeching free music from the net, it did nothing to really boost the mp3 player market. It was only when ipod came to the public eye that player sales really took off and mp3 became more widely known, until then it WAS still a niche thing.

  55. Jim Bissett

    I still have mine

    Never new it was very first remember buying it in currys irvine about £70 way back then even still have 2 16mb smart media 1 in and another in sleve that says xmass just put a battery in and hey presto working after all these years and Runrig loch lomond plays first.

    wonder if mp-man.co.uk still works nope ah! well at least I have a collectors piece

    Jim

  56. Nexox Enigma

    Re: So funny to see people suffer with non Apple MP3 players

    """I think it's funny when someone bashes Apple, uses a 3rd party MP3 player, and then you see them struggle with the software, or user interface, or poor battery life, or inability to handle lossless compression, etc. etc.

    I just laugh at anyone who doesn't use iTunes or an iPod for MP3s."""

    I laugh at people that /do/ use itunes and an ipod. Almost everyone I know that has an ipod uses Winamp do manage it since itunes has such a crap interface.

    But I personally have an iriver flash player that gets 45 hours (tested) battery life, has an excellent interface, does mp3, flac, and ogg (my favorite,) and, best of all, doesn't require any software. It mounts as a usb storage device, and I have a small python script that transcodes my music to ogg and transfers everything using rsync. I 'manage' my music with a terminal simply by copying files that I want into a directory on my laptop.

    And it only cost $40.

    If you think that itunes is the pinnacle of usability, then you probably don't know enough about interacting with a computer to have an opinion on the subject.

    I fondly remember my 32mb Rio ripoff. The battery life with AAAs was so terrible that I hacked on an external AA battery holder and just kept the jumble in a pouch. The display was so useless that I could operate the whole thing without even removing it from the bag. I imagine getting something like that through airport security these days would lead to some lovely probing in places that I'd rather keep private.

  57. heystoopid
    Pirate

    Well

    Well it did do one good thing it killed SONY's very evil DRM'd schemes and scams like ATRAC stone motherless dead!

    But with the prices of bulk cheap memory falling so quickly , it is about the right time to move on to lossless codec's !

  58. david Silver badge

    Apple, has no such split personality

    and jumped into the gaping hole that said 'make something for the average person' which had traditionally been Sony's.

    That is, Apple had /promised/ that it would never go into the music business when it took its name from Apple music, so it had no music business to protect when it went into the music business...

    And the world was looking for a business like iTunes, after the music industry had killed off all the businesses like iTunes, the ones that maintained a central inventory of titles and customers. If Napster had just come along 2 years later...

  59. Ross Fleming Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sony indeed in the game

    I started out with a Rio 500 (64Mb as I recall and USB!), and when it broke I traded it up for a Sony NW-MS11. 128Mb, could only play ATRAC3 files, but don't worry it came with conversion software - OpenMG Jukebox <shudder>

  60. JJMacey

    Comments on ‘Ten years old: the world's first MP3 player’

    Hey,

    I think that it was over 10 years ago that I could buy the complete Beatle albums - everything they ever produced after a chicken dinner.

    That was about US$5.00, a little more after the dinner. LOL!

    Hey, what happened with the VCD?

    Regards,

    JJMacey

    Phoenix, Arizona

    www.jjmacey.net/blog

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @Simon Harris

    > while a minidisc at the time could store 80 minutes of music at

    > a bit rate of nearly 300kbits/second on a cheap re-writeable

    > disc.

    I wouldn't count 30 dollars a piece as "cheap". And searching for a shop that sells blank MDs is like searching for a needle in a haystack. And 80 dollars for prerecorded discs which are even harder to find? No thanks.

    And lastly, transferring music to the player takes as long as the amount of music you had, since your only option of recording is the old "analog tape" method- hit record on the MD unit, hit play on the PC, and pray that the track doesn't skip or your MSN or whatever software you have don't make any noises during transfer, meaning you have to shut off practically everything except your media player software, and not touch the computer. And you have to plug it into the headphones jack on the PC, too, meaning you forfeit sounds during transferring of data. Sure, Sony fixed that with the NetMD, but then, I wouldn't want to pay over a thousand bucks for it if media is so hard to come by.

    Take it from someone who had a Sharp Minidisc player/recorder in the past. The player died in 2003, from which I used my Sony Clie as a makeshift MP3 player. My current MP3 player is a Creative Zen Vision:M that does way more than what the MD player could ever do: videos, photos, FM radio and currently holds my entire CD collection, as well as mirrors everything I have on my Media Center PC, and it still has space for more.

  62. heystoopid
    Boffin

    PS Back in '99

    Back in '99 Sybex published a book "MP3 ! SE"

    This book mentioned several dozen different brands on sale at publishing date

    and quick reviews on the following

    1/ Diamond Rio PMP500 street price USD$275 memory 64MB ram with a flash card 16/32MB extra

    2/ Pine D'music maximum memory 64MB street price USD$175

    3/ Audiovox MP1000 street price USD$150 max ram 64MB

    MP2000/3000 start basic memory 64MB

    4/ I-JAM (had FM radio too) 16MB memory street USD$225

    5/Sharp MD-MT15(s) minidisc street price USD$225

    needed "voquette minidisc net link hardware " to record though

    6/ HanGo Personal Jukebox 5GB(IBM micro drive 1"?) storage on USB (in '99 desktop harddrives were 50GB in size on average) price on the street USD$799

    7/ Sony VAIO Music Clip memory 64MB street price USD$299

    (ATRAC3 format)

    8/ Samsung Yepp base 32MB or 64MB plus 32MB flash card

    street price latter USD$220

    9/ eGo from i2Go.com flash card memory only 2 slots or 192MB or two microdrives 340MB each and sucks batteries drier then a thirsty vampire in double quick time ! Has car kit in base price .

    10/ Palm-Size PC was also mp3 capable

    option one Cassiopea E100/E105 mobile dock(WMA Format)

    11/12 IBM Workpad Z50/ HP Journada were mp3 capable too

    13/ Empeg Mark 1 din size FM stereo Linux on a strong ARM 220Mhz CPU 8MB ram and a computer hard drive offering 36GB of storage file transfer either slow serial or faster USB new improved Mark 2 due in 2000 (Mark 1 has four control buttons only )

    Now that should revive some memories .

  63. David Paul Morgan
    Happy

    MiniDisc please

    I had a MiniDisc recorder built into my Sony hi-fi and a one Sony & one Sharp portable MD plyer/recorders. The Sharp could take mike-in for recording interviews etc. I understand that the later netman MD recorders will let you rip your recordings from MD onto your personal computer via USB. shame this was not available earlier. I do have the usb to fibre-optic output adapter that would let you copy - in real time - mp3 to MD!.

    Now, I'm using an XDA/HTC-Wizard with 2GB miniSD cards or my SE 'Walkman' K850 and W880 handsets with 4GB M2 cards! All of which sync seamlessly with Windows Media Player.

    I only have one commercial MD album - I think it is by Reef. There must be a warehouse/landfill somewhere with millions of unsold commercial MD's!

  64. Sam Y
    Go

    I still have this mp3 player, F20 but there is not useful.

    The picture of mp3 player on the articles is F20, manufactured by Saehan.

    I still have this one, but now I can't use it any more.

    I remember when it came out in the world, I was so shocked.

    It means Digital products began to come out in the market and changed many of issued new productions in the world.

    Also, new brands had been developed quickly...

    However, Saehan dropped out of mp3 player from several years ago.

    Now some companies in Korea, Samsung (Yepp series) and Reincom (Iriver) have been developing this biz.

    Up to now, there are many good competitors in digital field ; sony, ipod and so on. It is good for users to provide a variety of choices.

    Now, I have Yepp series and they come to be my gadgets.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nexox Enigma

    "I have a small python script that transcodes my music to ogg and transfers everything using rsync. I 'manage' my music with a terminal simply by copying files that I want into a directory on my laptop."

    Yeah? Well, get this, right, I plug my iPod in and iTunes synchs it automatically. I then unplug it again and it has all my music on. If I feel *really* flash I don't even hit any keys or touch the mouse.

    Amazing, eh?

    And having had a pre-iTunes Windoze iPod, I can assure you that iTunes does make my life lots simpler.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iTunes replacement

    No one here has mentioned MediaMonkey as an iTunes replacement. I've been using it for quite a few years and find it vastly superior to any other music management software. Not only is the user interface more efficient I can synch about anything to it. This includes multiple versions of iPods, my Blackberry, my old Sony Clie PDA, an old Archos Jukebox, usb drives, removable HD's, etc. Essentially anything I can give as a drive or directory I can synch. The primary reason I started using it was because of it's syncing capabilities and because, unlike iTunes, I can set it to sync to capacity and not get the annoying message from iTunes that tells me to pare down my list of over 130gb of music. The only times I ever have to open iTunes is to upgrade the software on my iPod or to synch photos, addresses, or contacts (I don't have a video iPod but I suppose I'd need to use iTunes for that too) which I don't do very often (see the previously mentioned Blackberry) and because I occasionally use it for pulling Podcasts (which if I did more often I would likely use one of the other available utilities to download.)

  67. calagan

    Legal issues

    I think big names like Sony, but also many others came quite late, because there were legal issues. Diamond, the maker of the Rio, spent a huge lot of money defending itself against the MPAA before ii was actually broadly accepted that it was legal to produce this types of devices.

  68. Dai Kiwi

    No mention of the CD MP3 players?

    I honestly don't remember the first generation of mp3 players, though I do remember minidiscs being flogged at the time. My first portable mp3 memory is the discmans that could play mp3 cds. Get 8 or 10 albums on one single cd? WOW! Now that was cool.Great battery life off 2xAA cells too. The one I've currently got I bought in 2004 for NZ$50 and still use every day - since work uses thin clients not real PCs.

    Now I'm just looking out for a *really* cheap portable DVD player that plays mp3 DVDs. Gotta keep up after all.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Corporate greed, not technology is the issue

    I personally believe that it was the power of RIAA and SONY Records that stifled minidiscs. The fear of people making digital copies on a large scale was the barrier. Not market preferences, not technology issues. It's not a matter of ATRAC versus mp3 technology. I don't believe SONY engineers were not capable of enabling Long Play on minidiscs (up to 4CD's on 1 minidisc) and allowing transfer of files between the PC and the minidisc long, long time ago. Or that SONY marketers were unable to arrange for a minidisc to be part of almost every single boombox and bookshelf on the market, just like the cassette player was - and again is! In all this I can see a clear pattern of erecting artificial barriers to prevent digital copying at all costs, and to prevent the minidiscs from being a widespread media like the good old cassette. Real shame.

    I still use Minidisc for recording my own music and radio shows. In that function it is still unbeaten. Second reason why I am sticking with the minidisc is that I am not dependent on a computer - it's simply a part of my hi-fi. Thirdly, my instinct is that my recordings are safer on minidiscs than on a hard drive or a flash memory, long term (say 10-15 years). Hard discs and memories do crash, and file formats and interfaces do change in time.

    Make no mistake - I am a devoted, long time Macintosh user. Still I find it a real shame that a player that would combine the best features of both minidisc and iPod did not replace the compact cassette. I think that would have been a real winner for us users.

  70. Julian Whitehead

    I remember something like this in the late 1980s/early 1990s

    I remember while in the sixth form great excitement when a friends dad produced a grey box that could play high quality audio from some kind of solid state disc.

    He went out to Japan, and we never saw him again. Was this the forerunner of the MP3 player?

    I guess I will never know!

  71. Giles Jones Gold badge

    iPod ithe mp3 player

    "You're in Big Trouble now! Little bastard Stevie Jobs has spent the last less than a decade convincing the World that he, the Great iNOvator, Invented the Pocket Media Player!"

    No he hasn't, but for all intent and purposes the iPod is the MP3 player to most people. The name iPod and words like podcasting are in common use. Ask anyone to name an mp3 player and the iPod will be their answer in most cases.

    You really need to get a life Webster Phreaky, how old are you, 12?

  72. gothicform

    Kudos on the cd mp3 players

    I got one of these Sony discmen that could read mp3s too back in 2001 I think it was. At the time it could hold 700mb of mp3s on a rewriteable disc which was impressive for the day AND have a battery life of 35 hours. You could write a blank cd faster than usb 1 went too so it was quicker to sync up. Given the first generation of i-pods could barely manage six which wasn't enough to even listen to a cd of mp3s they were rather pointless. The remote could read id3 tags properly too but it was bigger. It also read the crappy ATRAC but I never ever used that and avoided the attempts by Sony to foist their rubbish on me. I never understood though why they spent so long not having proper mp3 players when you could get diskmen so long ago that did support mp3.

  73. fibonacci
    Coat

    totally uninformed....

    it really ticks me off when people who have absolutley no clue what they are talking about start to pontificate.

    1 - apple didn't invent the m3 player, no one said they did, but ford didn't invent the car either... they just made people need them.

    2 - apple SETTLED with creative. this means 2 things, creative couldn't get all they were asking for AND that there is no guilty verdict on apple's part -- they settled because fighting it in court would cost way more than 100mil. -- creative was simply trying to milk apple's success for a bit of publicity and some of the pie.

    3 - i could care less weather one prefers the ipod or some random taiwanese mp3 player - the simple fact is this, apple has proven again and again that they are way ahead of the game with the ipod -- pure and simple. argue all you want, i can get AM/FM functionality in a device they sell at dollar stores -- not to mention fm radio sucks, and all my talk radio shows are pod casted anyway. i've gotten so sick of so many different mp3 players, it's like saying windows vista is any better than xp -- let alone most builds of linux or osx.

    4 - the quality of audio on a mobile device is the absolute stupidest argument i've ever heard in my freakin life! it's like people who insist on doing every aspect of a record in analogue with no intention of releasing it on vinyl... all is lost once you throw it on cd, moron.... back to my point here though, there is SO MUCH background noise in your car and around you when you wear headphones, the db levels of the frequencies eliminated (anything above or below the range of human hearing) are way lower than those in your environment, so any benefit from even having them is nil, since they are drowned out by the area around you anyway. (did you know the ambient noise in the cabin of a car going 55mph on a highway can reach 70 db?) if you are arguing quality in such a crumby listening environment, you are either ignorant of the facts, or you are just arguing for the sake of argument...

    though that last reason seems to be why most people shamelessly bash companies like apple and honda...

    eh, whatever.

    ps - i don't even own a mac right now, as the local computer store had an acer laptop on sale for $350 -- though i do intend to get a macbook, why limit yourself?

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