What is an MP3 player? Lets take a stroll down memory lane. The typical portable tube radio of the fifties was about the size and weight of a lunchbox. By the late 50s the “transistor” radio could fit in a pocket and weighed half a pound or less and was powered by standard flashlight batteries or a single compact 9-volt battery. Prior to that time most radio was enjoyed in the home and music wasn’t very portable.

At this time music was recorded on records. In the late 1940s the reel-to-reel format for recording music was commercially developed. Eventually simpler reel-to-reel recorders were made available for home use. These recorders remained popular through the 1970s because of the superior quality of open reel recordings. Eight-track magnetic tape sound recording technology became popular in the mid-1960s. Most of us baby-boomers had 8-track players and tons of those huge cartridges. The cassette recorder was introduced in 1963. These cassette decks soon came into widespread use and were the preferred music source for the automobile. Like the 8-track cartridges, they were relatively insensitive to vehicle motion, had reduced tape flutter, and had the obvious advantages of smaller physical size and fast forward/rewind capability. With our transistor radios and cassette players, we could take our music with us everywhere. Just when we thought we had the best, the compact disc (also known as the CD) was made available in October 1982, and remains the standard playback medium for commercial audio recordings to the present day.

But the story doesn’t end there. In the late 1990s the utilization of digital media that shrinks down the size of music files so you can store more in a small amount of space brought about the first MP3 players. People could carry hundreds or even thousands of songs in their pockets. The popularity of these incredibly small devices rose rapidly. While Apple did not invent the MP3 player, they developed the iPod line which soon dominated the market. Today, numerous manufacturers like Creative, SanDisk, Panasonic, Sony, and others produce a wide variety of players.

These small devices come in many sizes and capacities. Their uses are almost unlimited. You can download music from CDs, radios, or the internet. You can then listen to this music with ear phones (or pods), on speakers from a dock, or even or your car radio with the right accessory. It is possible to use your TV as a display screen for menus and playback information. You can also download movies and pictures to watch when and where you want. Some have the capability to record and playback messages. Another amazing advantage is that you can store you music in one place and various MP3 players in the home can access the collection.