The very first mp3 player to appear was Winplay3 in 1995. However the history of the mp3 player is best understood by analyzing the history of the technology itself.
Origin of Mp3 Technology
Mp3 stands for MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3. It was developed in 1991 by the Motion Pictures Experts Group to be part of the MPEG format. There were actually several groups involved in its creation.
However it is the German company Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft that releases the license for the music technology. Those credited with creating the mp3 technology are Bernd Kurten, Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, Bernhard Grill, Thomas Sporer, and Ernst Eberlein.
The technology was born out of the need to make high quality music but with high compression. The history of the mp3 player and mp3s evolved out of necessity.
Before mp3 came along, music files were stored in mostly WAV formats. This sound quality was high but the files were huge. A WAV consisting of a few seconds of sound would be several megabytes in size.
The project actually developed in Germany in 1987 with the initial aim to find new ways to compress musical data. It was in 1989 when the Fraunhofer group got the patent for the technology. Three years later, mp3 was assimilated into the MPEG technology. A year the standard was implemented.
A Brief History of the Mp3 Player
The Fraunhofer Company also tried making mp3 players but they were not successful. It was in 1997 when the AMP MP3 Playback Engine player came out. This was invented by Tomislav Uzelac who was working at the Advanced Multimedia Products Company. The player was not sold commercially.
However a few months later, students Dmitry Boldyrev and Justin Frankel transported the AMP technology into Windows. The result was a small, free mp3 player called Winamp. Its ease of use made it very popular. Soon Windows Media Player began supporting mp3 as well.
As mp3 became very popular, companies started making portable players. These devices would change the history of the mp3 player. One of the first was MPMan, released in 1998 by SaeHan Information Systems in South Korea. This was followed by the Rio PMP300. In 1999 Compaq created the PJB 100, which could store over 1,200 songs.
Around October 2001, Apple introduced its iPod. It had 5 GB of disk space. It was smaller than the other players and had an easy to use interface. The gadget would prove enormously popular among computer users.
It has become something of a standard. Subsequent releases of the iPod (and its rivals) would allow it to play other music files and video as well.
Around 2003 mp3 players and cell phones were combined for the first time. It was also around the time that artists started selling music as mp3 downloads. Eventually this would start a trend that continues to this day.
The history of the mp3 player is an exciting one and it continues to evolve. The technology is advancing, improving the quality of the sound even more.