No, This Guy Didn't Invent The iPod 30 Years Ago

from the try-again dept

Two and a half years ago, we wrote about the claims of Kane Kramer, a guy who claimed to have invented the iPod thirty years ago, and was talking to lawyers to see if he had a case against Apple. As we explained at the time, Kramer did not invent the iPod at all. He created a very early digital music player, that had much less functionality that couldn't store more than a few minutes of music, which never got anywhere in the marketplace, and for which all of his patents had long expired. To say that he had invented the iPod would be like saying that the first guy who threw a block of ice in a box "invented" the air conditioner.

Yet, here we go again, as the DailyMail in the UK is claiming that Apple has admitted that this guy did, in fact, invent the iPod. However, again, that's not true at all. What happened was that Apple had him provide some evidence in its dispute with Burst.com (which was eventually settled). Basically, what Apple was doing wasn't admitting that Kramer "invented the iPod" but was showing that there was plenty of prior art (including Kramers) that predated Burst's highly questionable patents.

That doesn't mean that Kramer invented the iPod. It just means that his work predated Burst's claim of a monopoly on some specific technology that it claimed Apple infringed. That's a long way from "inventing the iPod." Besides, there were plenty of digital music players prior to the iPod. In fact, the real revolution around the iPod wasn't the fact that it was a digital player, but that it was the first digital player that had significant storage and could carry large collections of music at once -- something that Kramer's player never could do. So, please, can we stop repeating this myth that he somehow invented the iPod. He didn't.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    " . . . as the DailyMail in the UK is claiming . . . "

    Sorry, wasnt really any point in reading past that . . .

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Sierra Night Tide, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 11:57am

    inventions

    I invented the ...ummmm...... X-Box! Yea but I called it the dream box .... it was black and um it held games and ahhhh people sat around and played with it.


    OK give me money!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Al Gore, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:07pm

    The Internets

    I invented the internet, and global warming ; )

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Potato Head, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    I invented

    Nothing. Now every time you do nothing, say nothing, think nothing or just look off into nothing. I hold a patent so payup!!

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Duder, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Uh?

    But didn't that guy Kramer invent the iPod?




    (It's a widely BELEIVED FACT!)

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Sierra Night Tide, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

    Re: I invented

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


    DUDE! You are going to be like sooooo filthy rich!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    That newspaper is famous for exaggerated or just plain wrong stories

    Fark.com regularly refers to them as The Daily Fail.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    fixed for you guys That doesn't mean that Kramer invented the iPod. It just means that his work predated Burst's claim of a monopoly on some specific technology that it claimed Apple infringed. That's a long way from "inventing the iPod." Besides, there were plenty of digital music players prior to the iPod. In fact, the real revolution around the iPod wasn't the fact that it was a digital player, but that it was the first digital player made by Applethat had significant storage and could carry large collections of music at once -- something that Kramer's player never could do.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:40pm

    fixed for you guys

    That doesn't mean that Kramer invented the iPod. It just means that his work predated Burst's claim of a monopoly on some specific technology that it claimed Apple infringed. That's a long way from "inventing the iPod." Besides, there were plenty of digital music players prior to the iPod. In fact, the real revolution around the iPod wasn't the fact that it was a digital player, but that it was the first digital player made by Apple that had significant storage and could carry large collections of music at once -- something that Kramer's player never could do.

     

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  10.  
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    PaulT (profile), Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:42pm

    Even if he did "invent the iPod", so what? Apple weren't the first to create a portable digital music player, they just happened to be the ones to properly market it with a decent idiot-proof control system.

    To invent the MP3 player, all he needed to do was envisage a portable digital system capable of playing back music. It would have been more of a stretch of the imagination 30 years ago than, say, 10 years ago when the first Diamond Rio shipped. But it's certainly not an idea that means this guy should get any extra recognition - he tried a new idea, it failed because the product and execution were not marketable at that time. Tough, but not every inventor or businessman is entitled to success.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    I prefer to think of them as The Daily Heil.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Potato Head, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: I invented

    Hmmmm,

    I just got a message back from the Patent office. Seems they are having problems processing my application.

    They said they would be more than happy to help me, but my app seems to contain nothing.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    "In fact, the real revolution around the iPod wasn't the fact that it was a digital player, but that it was the first digital player that had significant storage and could carry large collections of music at once..."

    I don't agree with that statement. The real revolution was the creation a store front that made it simple and cheap to buy digital content then transport it to the device. That's what really grabbed the consumer market.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:51pm

    Just ignore the daily mail. Everyone who reads this blog will ignore the daily mail anyway, and anyone who reads the daily mail will ignore this blog because it contradicts the daily mail, which to them is the sole source of truth in the world.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Davin Peterson, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    Creative invented the iPod interface

    Creative Labs pioneered the mp3 player and invented the iPod interface, which Apple stole.

     

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  16.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Sep 8th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Re:

    Nah, that's only fitting when they're banging on about immigration issues...

    The rest of the time, Daily Fail is more appropriate...

     

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  17.  
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    mobiGeek, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Creative invented the iPod interface

    Define "stole", because I don't think you understand what the word means.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Sierra Night Tide, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Creative invented the iPod interface

    I believe "stole" is the technology business action of recreation....

    DIY seamstresses 'recreate' fashionable clothing from already made clothing. If the iPod was indeed 'stolen' I'm sure Apple only 'recreated' something new from something already made -- they just did it better and or more marketable.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Ortzinator, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Creative invented the iPod interface

    Get a clue. Creative licenses the interface to Apple. They didn't "steal" anything.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    g, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Apple didn't have the first mp3 player that stored a lot of songs, I'm, pretty sure Creative did with its Creative Jukebox.

    I'm pretty sure I started with one at 6 gb before the iPod existed, and by the time the iPod came out the Jukebox was up to 20 gb.

    And I very much disagree that it was iTunes that brought the iPod to the mass audience. Apple won the mp3 player war with nothing more than advertising. Seriously. It was their ads, their image. Creative wasn't putting anything on tv, perhaps they thought it would only be for hardcore geeks. But Apple's ads made everyone say, "What is that? I want one." And it spread like a virus.

    If Creative had smarter marketing people working for them at the time, perhaps they wouldn't be sitting on the sidelines today. It's a fate they didn't deserve -- in their own time, those original Jukeboxes were the best piece of technology I've ever owned.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    HonestL_guy, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 2:18pm

    Everyone Knows

    Everyone knows Al Gore invented the iPod.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Jake, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 2:34pm

    Who REALLY invented the iPod

    Of course that dude didn't invent the iPod -- John Lennon did.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    dookey, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 3:03pm

    Re: I invented

    DAMN!! Ok, what is your address...I might as well pay up now!~

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    DS, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 3:31pm

    Re:

    Thanks, you saved me the trouble. I guess we could throw in that it was also the first one to be marketed in the mainstream media (tv, non-tech print advertisments) as well. I think that we would need to have our research department actually check on that, so I'm ok if we leave that out. Do we want to add it before we send it back to Mike, or should your first correction be enough before it goes to publish?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Nobody, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    Kramer?

    Does anyone else think it would be a hilarious bit in a Seinfeld episode to have Kramer come in and say one of his stupid ideas, but it's the iPod, and everyone tells him it's a stupid idea?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    z0iid, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 3:44pm

    huh?

    "...player that had significant storage and could carry large collections of music at once."

    How can you use the word AND? That implies "in addition to", adding to the previous statement, different than the first statement... you said the same thing twice, just stating it differently. "Significant storage" implies that is could carry large collections of music at once.

    That is just stupid superfluous writing to pad the statement that the ipod was new in at least 2 DIFFERENT ways from other digital music players.

    I'm sorry, that but statement just isn't of the quality that I would expect coming from a techdirt writer?

    Did you hire new staff recently? Fire them.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    JT, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 6:53pm

    Re:

    I had one of the old Archos 6000's with a 6gb hard drive that predated the iPod. The USB 1.1 was a real treat when copying 6gb of songs or data!

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Who REALLY invented the iPod

    He does a good John impersonation! Sounded spot on.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2008 @ 7:26pm

    Re: huh?

    I don't agree with the statement as there were other players first but you have too much time on your hands to read into it. Maybe you would have been more satisfied with:

    "...player that had significant storage and as a result could carry large collections of music at once."

    That's how I understood it without blowing a gasket and over thinking a freakin' post.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Algore, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 4:54am

    Internet

    I invented the Internet. Yeah, that's the ticket...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Donovon, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Creative invented the iPod interface

    Diamond pioneered the mp3 player with the rio..

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    H., Sep 9th, 2008 @ 7:18am

    Burst.com

    I think its super cool that Burstdotcom got Apple to pay them 10 million dollars in what basically amounts to protection money ensuring no future lawsuits from Burstdotcom. I can think of a few CRIMES this BS payment falls under (Protection Racket, Extortion, Blackmail) I cant believe that this kind of dealing is considered legitimate. WOW

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    angry dude, Sep 9th, 2008 @ 8:43am

    What a bunch of idiot punks here

    Mikey did a good job assembling the audience

    He'll make a good politician one day

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    something, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 10:04am

    He invented it

    Kane kramer invented it get used to it dang it was provine at court so leave it there and im sure you have no prof that apple didn't take his idea and build on it.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    guy, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 7:59pm

    advertising made ipod successful

    The article says that what seperated the ipod was its ability to store a lot of music - that's not true. The archos and creative labs had music players that were just has big storage, were cheaper, and didn't have as many limits. Usually they could play and record music, sometimes had radios, and were cheaper per MB/GB than apple products... just like they still are today. Oh, and Creative Labs' have clearer sound.

    Apple just hit a great run with the commercials and such for the ipod. Other than the design, they're just WAY overpriced mp3 players.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Motorcycle Fairings, Nov 21st, 2008 @ 2:14pm

    Everybody is after the easy money, but of course Apple is going to beat this guy and he will learn not to play with the big boys!

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    juanhunose, Jan 4th, 2009 @ 6:18am

    Lets get a few things straight here...
    Kane Kramer is a personal friend of mine.
    I've known him quite a few years now.
    In fact I was present about 7 or 8 years ago when he dug his drawings and documents out of storage.
    The IXI device was capable of far more than a few seconds of recording in fact a good few minutes.
    If anyone was the originator of the DAP, then it WAS Kane!
    He truly deserves some kind of recognition.
    Not just from Apple, but from all those who released DAP players before the Ipod (Mpman,Rio,et al).
    IMHO it's not unusual for companies to go "Patent Trawling" - especially expired ones.
    A LOT of the features of the IXI are apparent even on the latest DAP players.
    He's not after vast fortunes, just a nod of recognition.
    I really think the industry as a whole could make some kind of "Ex Gratia" to him.
    Remember Nikola Tesla? The genius they tried to write out of the history books? - Same Situation...........

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Home Decor, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:40am

    I guess the whole point here is that why is it that he didn't claimed the invention of the Walkman or a CD player, why precisely the most profitable invention of the last years? that's the point.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    juanhunose, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 2:28am

    Re:

    The cd player was launched (in the u.k. at least) at the International Music Show in the early 80's.
    Guess who organised and ran the show?
    Yep, Kane did.
    I really fail to see what walkmans or cd players have to do with this?
    What Kane came up with was a fully solid state device with no moving parts - I.E. a Digital Audio player that played directly from memory......

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    loser 101, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    kane kramer

    he made Ipod, and you are all losers!!!!

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Tony Clayman, Jun 13th, 2009 @ 2:53am

    mp3 player was invented by Kane

    I've known Kane for may years. A lot of bloggers are concentrating on his drawings and saying they may be similar to the ipod, but so what, any one can draw a futurustic device. They don't seem to realise that Kane created 4 working protypes. Sure, they were only capable of playing three and a half minutes of music, but the first car could not reach speeds of 100mph. It is a fact that Kane invented the first mp3 player.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonnymus, Mar 20th, 2010 @ 10:03am

    Re: inventions

    Wow that was funny, how can people "create" things like this so long ago?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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