A Brief History of MP3 Players

The history of MP3 players is a fascinating subject, as these handheld music devices have evolved from objects the size of a brick to the tiny portable music players you carry around with you daily. All in fewer than 20 years.

Development of the MP3 format.

1989: The MP3 format patented in Germany.

1996: A United States patent is granted to the German inventors of MP3 format.

1997: AMP, the first MP3 playback program, is invented.

1998: Two German college students bring the AMP playback engine to Windows, creating Winamp, the first MP3 playback software for Windows.

History of MP3 players.

1998: Eiger Labs releases the first of the MP3 players; the MPMan F10, with 32MB of memory.

The Diamond Rio PMP300, with 32MB of memory, is released shortly after the MPMan F10. The Rio's commercial success makes MP3 a viable format.

1999: The Sensory Science RaveMP 2100 arrives. It's the first MP3 player with 64MB of memory, voice-recording capabilities and an FM tuner.

Creative Labs' Nomad is the first MP3 player to come with a docking station, eliminating wires.

Remote Solutions' Personal Jukebox PJB-100 is released in fall. It's the first MP3 player to use an internal hard drive instead of flash memory. It's big and clunky, but it offers a then-astonishing 4.8 GB of storage. This MP3 player is the father of the modern iPod and other hard-drive-based MP3 players.

2000: I2Go eGo is released, with 2GB of storage using micro-drive technology. Its size is comparable with smaller flash-based MP3 players, but the price is prohibitively high and the company folds.

Creative Labs' Nomad Jukebox is released, with 6GB of storage. It's still a huge device, but it'shigh-quality sound makes this one of the best MP3 players on the market.

2001: Nike releases the PSA Play 120, the first MP3 player aimed at the workout crowd, with an armband and a coating to keep sweat from getting into the player.

The Apple iPod debuts, offering 5GB of storage and seamless integration with the iTunes Music Library, but only if you've got a Mac.

2002: The second generation Apple iPod arrives, offering up to 20GB of storage and built-in Windows compatibility. Apple also launches the iTunes Music Store, which will grow to become one of the largest music distribution services online.

Archos releases Jukebox Multimedia, letting users record from a camera attachment and view photos and video. This MP3 player is the first portable multimedia device.

2005: The fifth generation Apple iPod adds a color screen and video playback, along with 60GB of storage.

Music phones take off in the United States, with LG, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia and SonyEricsson releasing phones with integrated MP3 players.

2006: More MP3 players are sold in musicphones than as stand-alone devices.

2007: Apple releases iPhone and iPod Touch. These MP3 players feature touch screens, Web connectivity and downloadable software that expands their functionality. 

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