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.
Filed Under: history, invention, ipod, kane kramer
Comments on “No, This Guy Didn't Invent The iPod 30 Years Ago”
" . . . as the DailyMail in the UK is claiming . . . "
Sorry, wasnt really any point in reading past that . . .
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!
Wow that was funny, how can people “create” things like this so long ago?
I invented the internet, and global warming ; )
Nothing. Now every time you do nothing, say nothing, think nothing or just look off into nothing. I hold a patent so payup!!
Re: I invented
DUDE! You are going to be like sooooo filthy rich!
Re: Re: I invented
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.
Re: I invented
DAMN!! Ok, what is your address…I might as well pay up now!~
But didn’t that guy Kramer invent the iPod?
(It’s a widely BELEIVED FACT!)
That newspaper is famous for exaggerated or just plain wrong stories
Fark.com regularly refers to them as The Daily Fail.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
I prefer to think of them as The Daily Heil.
Nah, that’s only fitting when they’re banging on about immigration issues…
The rest of the time, Daily Fail is more appropriate…
“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.
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.
Creative invented the iPod interface
Creative Labs pioneered the mp3 player and invented the iPod interface, which Apple stole.
Re: Creative invented the iPod interface
Define “stole”, because I don’t think you understand what the word means.
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.
Re: Creative invented the iPod interface
Get a clue. Creative licenses the interface to Apple. They didn’t “steal” anything.
Re: Re: Creative invented the iPod interface
Diamond pioneered the mp3 player with the rio..
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.
Everyone knows Al Gore invented the iPod.
Who REALLY invented the iPod
Of course that dude didn’t invent the iPod — John Lennon did.
Re: Who REALLY invented the iPod
He does a good John impersonation! Sounded spot on.
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?
“…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.
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.
I invented the Internet. Yeah, that’s the ticket…
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
What a bunch of idiot punks here
Mikey did a good job assembling the audience
He’ll make a good politician one day
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.
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.
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!
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………..
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.
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……
he made Ipod, and you are all losers!!!!
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.
New name does not change inventorship
OK, so he didn’t call his digital music player an iPod, but the essential elements were taught and claimed, albeit expired to make convenient admissions free of charge for Apple. When microprocessor companies decided they “invented” multiple processors in a single package, they called them “multi-core” and ignored the work of a brilliant 1996 inventor who had already worked out the details of sending threads to different processors, calling his interface controllers with processors “agents.” So just coming up with a new name, “cores,” was not sufficient to deny the original inventor credit when the essential elements all match (e.g. – in the Apple example a cute new name, display screen, and sexy circular touch control not being relevant to the real legal question, just novel improvements which offer no safe harbor from an accusation of pirating the original idea). Patent claims use the word “comprising” which translates as “including, but not limited to.” You cannot circumvent the patent for a chair by making your chair a recliner. So, while true he did not invent the entire iPod, he clearly did invent the first digital music player. The first rocket was pretty primitive, too, but the Apollo program didn’t pretend they invented rocket propulsion. Edison did not invent the light bulb, but did improve it enough to make it practical and marketable, but again, he is not the inventor of the genus light bulb, which is to say a glass bulb, vacuum, and conductor which becomes hot enough to emit light. Apple did not invent putting a fingerprint sensor on a phone or incorporating NFC to make credit card payments, but the are about to make it successful, and, hopefully, they will respect and somehow appreciate the people who contributed to the portions of the systems which enabled their new product. Americans who complain about Chinese knockoff products should consider what is happening right here at home.
have you seen his patent drawings? they look just like the iPod. when he lost his patents apple Stole them. he invented it, deal with it.
Digital music players
Kane may not have made the first iPod, but he did make its predecessor. If Kane knew then when he made his digital music player (DMP) what he knows of the popularity of DMPs today, he would have kept up his patents and Apple would not be what they are today. But if you want to really get technical, then you could break it down to who made the CPU for it…
As I understand it from Mr Kramer, it’s principally the navigation system he designed that was needed to make the Ipod what it was. Banging on about the storage is a red herring. Storage and processing memory has been an arms race since the beginning of electronic data processing.