History and Journey

The Beginning

Believe it or not, the MP3 player wasn’t called the “MP3 player” at first. It was named the “IXI”, designed by a man named Kane Kramer.

Image from Wired: Briton Invented (bit.ly/2Db35rg)

A UK patent for the first Digital Audio Player, the IXI was filed in 1981 and then received by Kramer in 1985. The player was about the size of a credit card. It would hold 8 MB worth of data, equivalent to about 3.5 minutes worth of audio. The idea eventually made it to public space when Kramer couldn’t raise funds to renew his patents.

The world’s first MP3 player was introduced in 1997, developed by a South Korean company by the name of SaeHan information Systems. Things didn’t work out too well and a few more similar devices came about, each competing with portability and memory space.


Diamond Multimedia would then come to create the Rio PMP300 in the year 1998. Sales exceeded expectations which brought about the drama that soon followed. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) decided to sue Diamond, basically saying the device encouraged illegal music-copying. Diamond won the lawsuit and the MP3 players were deemed legal devices.

Image from FedSmith.com: Lawsuit Over Shutdown (bit.ly/2Ig93LG)


Gigabytes, terabytes, and even bigger storage spaces appear common in present time but back then, even megabytes were considered revolutionary. So, imagine the impact it made to the public when a company called Remote Solutions introduced a capacity of 4.8 GB music player. It was nearing the end of 1999 when the Personal Jukebox (PJB-100) was brought to the market, boasting its use of a laptop drive for song storage instead of the usual (at the time) low capacity flash memory.

Image from Pixabay: ipod-music-mp3-player-songs (http://bit.ly/2UwtISd)

Then, came Apple with their iPods in the year 2001. The iPod was paired with the iTunes software but the downside was that it was only compatible with Macs. The device had a 1.8-inch Toshiba 5 GB hard drive with a black-and-white display on the screens.


Things took a turn in 2002 when MP3 players began to implement screens to display images and videos. The storage spaces eventually had to increase due to the size requirements for such features. A company called Creative opted for a different route, making the MP3 players smaller and more portable; the very first MuVo. It had 12 hours of playback time on a single AAA battery.

Image from PCWorld.com: Evolution of the MP3 Player (http://bit.ly/2UIRdHl)

And in 2007, the generation of touch-screens began. The iPod Touch at the time had a 16GB storage and a 3.5-inch touchscreen, priced slightly above the RM 1600 range. Samsung also had implemented the touchscreen function to their MP3 player. This was called the Y2-P2, making use of the Bluetooth technology which, when paired with a Bluetooth-enabled phone, the MP3 player was capable of making and receiving calls.

The Decline

Eventually, Apple (and most electronic products) took over. We now have at least 16 GB of storage and touchscreen technology as a base for the newer ones. With the ability to play songs, make and receive calls, as well as the flood of free apps on the phone, the MP3 player slowly died out.

They are still around of course, but you hardly see them anymore. If you see someone with a touchscreen phone, it is very likely that they don’t have an MP3 player in their pocket.

Image from Techspot: Buying an MP3 player in 2018 (https://bit.ly/2VKqKq9)


To be fair, Apple didn’t actually KILL the MP3 player. It just started the war that caused it to slowly die away.

Are you old enough to have owned an old MP3 player in the past? Leave us a comment about the time when you got yours or the ones you STILL have hidden somewhere in the house!

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