History of Mp3 Players

An Mp3 player, in simple words, is an electronic device used to play digital audio. Back then, people used these players to listen to their favorite music on the go, but today, they are replaced with smartphones and sound streaming apps. The media players could also play several other audio formats apart from Mp3, such as:

  • Windows Media Audio
  • Advanced Audio Coding 
  • Vorbis 
  • FLAC
  • Speex
  • Ogg


Digital Media Player

The thought about the digital media players arose in 1981 when Kane Kramer invented the IXI. The IXI was approximately the size of a credit card that had an LCD screen. It also included navigation and audio buttons. The memory capacity was around 8MB that could play not more than three and a half minutes of audio. 

Then the hunt for better players started, and digital media players were invented in a row, one after another. The aim was to build a device that could play 10 minutes to an hour of audio. Later on, five different prototypes were invented in 1986. 


A research program was started in 1987 that aimed at inventing a device that could code music with the minimum possible bit-rate sampling and higher quality. Karlheinz Brandenburg was the in-charge of this project that was held originally in a German research institute. 

Audio Highway succeeded in releasing the Listen Up music player that could play an hour of the audio music. CES awarded this device for its exceptional quality. Besides being an award-winning device, not more than 25 copies were made. 

MP3 Player


MP3 Players are portable devices operated using headphones and batteries. Some of the players feature an FM radio tuner inside them. They can be connected to devices like CD players to play the music directly obtained from the player’s memory. The CD players help you use MP3 players without it being connected to a computer. 

MPMan F10

Mp3 was introduced in 1994 as an audio data compression device. It was established using a variety of techniques, including the psychoacoustic and FFT methods. This world’s first Mp3 player was named “MPMan F10”. A South Korean company called “SaeHan Information System” invented this and became the first company to invent an Mp3 player in 1997.  Later, MP32Go Player was also released in 1997. 

A 32 MB version of the “MP Man F10”, the “Eager Labs F10” was released for the first time in the American market in 1998. Though it was not user expandable, it was possible to be upgraded to 64 MB. 

Rio PMP300 MP3 Player

Rio PMP300 MP3 Player

The same year (1998), Diamond Multimedia released the Rio PMP300 MP3 player that became a major success and rose public interest in digital music. In response, the RIAA sued the company after accusing it of illegally replicating the music. Universal City Studios and Mp3 players were considered legal devices after winning the case against RIAA.

Personal Jukebox

Personal Jukebox

The next year (1999), several new brands entered the market following the advent of the Eiger Labs and Diamond. Compaq succeeded in designing the Personal Jukebox (PJB-100) in 1999. It was then released by Hango Electronics Co. This device had the greatest storage till now (4.8 GB) that could store more than 1,200 songs. 

Afterward, the jukebox segment of digital music portables was designed and released in the market. This segment was considered the most dominant of the digital music players. 

First In-Dash MP3 Players

First In-Dash MP3 Players

At last, digital music players managed to become the most popular in the category. The Empeg Car and Rio Car were the first in-dash MP3 players to debut in 1999. They supported capacities ranging from 5-28 GB and were sold by a company called Rio.

In 1999, Napster invented a system that permitted digital files to be transferred from one user’s hard drive to another regardless of their geographic location.

Types of MP3 Players

1. CD-Players


These players are capable of playing the audio CDs and the homemade data CDs comprising digital audio files, including MP3. CD players started gaining popularity in the 90s and started replacing cassettes. Why people preferred CDs over Cassettes is not a secret as these are likely to occupy less space than cassettes. Another plus point of switching to the CD players was the ease to copy and transfer the music files to the computer. 

2. Pocket Device

Pocket Device

Digital audio files are typically stored on solid-state devices such as memory cards, which may be external or internal. They come in very small sizes ranging from 128MB to 1GB but can typically be expanded with additional memory. 

3. Devices that Read Audio From Hard Drive

These players had a higher capacity that ranged from 1.5 GB to 100GB. The capacity depends upon the technology of hard drives they use. In simple words, these devices are capable of storing more than hundreds of songs. An example of a device belonging to this category is an iPod. 


The MP3 players have been evolved a great deal from 1981 till now. Although the latest smartphones and Spotify/SoundCloud have taken the place of Mp3 players, you can still find one in the market today.