First is First
March 11, 1997: First Digital MP3 Player – MPMan
Although the MP3 player had technically been around since the 80′s, the MPMan was the first mass produced portable Digital Music Player introduced to the public. For $250 Eiger Labs would sell you a 32 MB model to hold 4 to 8 of your favorite songs. MPMan was manufactured by the South Korean company SaeHan Information Systems (now Seahan Media), and rebranded by Eiger Labs.
British scientist Kane Kramer designed one of the earliest digital audio players, which he called the IXI. His 1979 prototype was capable of approximately one hour of audio playback but it did not enter commercial production.
We’ve come so far with digital music. I know all my CDs are sitting in a box in the basement right now. From being able to carry 4 or maybe even 8 of your favorite songs with you to now, being able to carry an entire music collection or pod cast or even movies.
The player featured 32MB of flash memory (which could be upgraded to 64MB via mail-in scheme). It came with a docking station to connect to your computer, had a rechargeable battery and only weighed 65 grams. Connecting to your PCs parallel port, it had a miniscule LCD for playback info, but it laid the groundwork for the tech we have today.
Following the MPMan’s release, Rio unleashed its PMP300, which received a warmer reception and all-but eclipsed the F10’s status as “first” amongst players, likely due to the company’s well-known (and groundbreaking) legal battle against the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).