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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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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.

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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!)

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Silver badge

@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*

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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.

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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

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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.

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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 !

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Bronze 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...

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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>

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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

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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.

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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 .

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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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