The 90s Video Games & Tech

MP3 Player

An MP3 player is an electronic device that is programmed to play audio files for personal use. They became popular in the late 1990s due to their high-quality sound reproduction and ability to store many music files in one place. MP3 players are today the most widely used portable audio devices in the world.

The first digital audio player was developed in 1979, when the scientist Kane Kramer unveiled his prototype of the IXI. The device was capable of up to an hour of audio playback, and Apple Inc. quickly hired Kramer to continue working on the technology. In 1995, the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) went public with their MP3 audio compression format, which was designed to greatly reduce the size of audio files while maintaining good overall sound quality. The format became popular on the nascent Internet for being relatively quick to download, and was soon the industry standard for audio compression.

In 1997, Saehan Information Systems releaed the first MP3 player in Asia. Called the MPMan, it was available in 32 and 64 megabyte versions, which could hold 6 or 12 songs apiece. Compaq released its Digital Jukebox player the next year, which boasted a capacity of several gigabytes due to its internal hard drive. Creative released their own hard drive-based player, the 6-gigabyte Nomad, in 2000. Many other companies soon released their own lines of MP3 players, including Sansa and Sony, and the popularity of the audio players grew exponentially as consumers grew to enjoy taking their music collections with them wherever they went.

October 2001 saw the debut of Apple’s first iPod, which instantly became popular with Mac users due to its easy integration with Apple software, its 5 GB storage capacity, and its large (2″) display. Apple has since produced five different designs for the iPod line, each of which have gone through up to five generations. The iPod is one of the most ubiquitous devices on the planet today.



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