Old School MP3 Players revisited

These were the first MP3 players that I bought (pictures were take off their wikipedia page). They were expensive, and at the time many people were unaware of these portable audio products and it was considered a niche tech device. It wasn’t until a few years later that the Apple iPod made it’s debut that popularize and became ubiquitous in the portable audio device industry. The one on the right (Rio 500) was purchase back in 1999, and the one on the left (Rio S10) I purchased when I was in college.

I gave the Rio 500 to my brother after using it for a year and replaced it with a Panasonic CD player that was capable of reading MP3 files. The MP3 CD player was great because I was able to store a ton of songs on a CD compared to the 64 MB that was built into the Rio 500. With the CD player I could listen while waiting between classes in college and wouldn’t have to worry about listening to the same song 12 times a day.  It wasn’t until I started doing long distance running that I got the Rio S10. The unit was light and I could hold it comfortably in my hand when I ran. Unfortunately it also had 64 MB, but it was enough to last me a whole run.

Eventually my running out-grew the Rio S10, and I picked up a Creative Muvo. It had 256 MB of memory. It was a good player but it didn’t last very long since there was no good way of holding it when I ran, so I gave that away to my brother too. I later bought an iPod Nano. I quickly realize the Nano was too big. Wearing the Nano iPod arm strap was too cumbersome, so I traded down for a shuffle which I think is the best MP3 player for a runner or for anyone who likes with listen to music when they workout.

MP3 players have come a long way and I’ve been following it since appeared in consumer hands. Today they’ve become more popular than ever. The ability to play MP3s are now embedded into almost every portable device from GPS units, cell phones, car stereos, and even sunglasses. As with all individual technologies it can adapt to the advancement of other technologies around it or die off in obsolescence. MP3-only devices are approaching the latter, but not without a fight. Many of the successors of MP3 players of yesterday are called Portable Media Players (PMPs) today. Not only do these play music, but they play video. And even these PMPs are beginning to reach obsolescence as well. They will soon be replaced by handheld video game consoles and smartphones. Only time will tell, but I’m sure their days are numbered.

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