1979 “iPod” Music Player

Posted on July 16, 2009  Comments (7)

1979 music player patent application by Kane Kramer1979 music player patent drawings by Kane Kramer, from Gizmodo

Suspiciously Prescient Man Files Patent for iPod-Like Device in 1979 by Dan Nosowitz

Kane Kramer, an inventor by trade, came up with a gadget and music distribution service almost eerily similar to the iPod-iTunes relationship that predates it by three decades. The guy predicted details down to DRM and flash memory’s dominance.

Kramer’s device, the IXI, was flash-based, even though flash memory in 1979 only could have held about three minutes of audio, and featured a screen, four-way controls, and was about the size of a cigarette pack. Even weirder, he envisioned the creation and sale of digital music and foresaw all the good and bad that would come from this: No overhead, no inventory, but a great push for independent artists, with the risk of piracy looming large.

He predicted DRM, though he didn’t go into many specifics, and in his one concession to the time, guessed that music would be bought on coin-operated machines placed in high-traffic areas.

Related: Freeware Wi-Fi app turns iPod into a PhoneGoogle Patent Search Fun2008 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention

7 Responses to “1979 “iPod” Music Player”

  1. Mark
    July 17th, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

    This guy Kramer was obviously way ahead of his time. You don’t suppose he was abducted by aliens and given this technology, do you? 😉

    This is just another example of advanced forward thinking, that never goes anywhere due to the lack of capital to propel it further. If this guy had ever run into Steve Jobs back in 1979…

    BTW, is he any relation to a guy named, Cosmo?

  2. Kyle
    July 18th, 2009 @ 5:56 pm

    It’s interesting that the technology and market did eventually develop 20-25 years later in order for this to become a feasible product. This is much more impressive than the “flying cars of the future” concepts we still don’t have.

  3. James
    July 19th, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    Not only was he ahead of time he honestly knew what he was doing. Got to give the guy some credit.

  4. Kenny
    July 20th, 2009 @ 2:52 am

    oh! i don’t think ipod has been thinking about since 1979. looking to the design, it does not have much difference from the recent one. it’s strange.

  5. Anonymous
    July 20th, 2009 @ 11:23 am

    wow, that is amazing, i wonder if he had a ‘vision’ or was a time traveler, most people back then had crazy visions of the future, take most futuristic movies for example. i think it is amazing that this happened, and apple probably had the guy killed.

  6. Anonymous
    July 21st, 2009 @ 1:52 am

    I know this article states that Kane Kramer did but before Apple brought the iPod to market Thompson had mp3 players for sale, Creative had HDD players and Archos had HDD players.
    APPLE WAS NOT THE FIRST is it really that hard to remember it wasn’t that long ago !

  7. Scott Pruitt
    July 21st, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

    This Kramer guys is he still alive? If you’ve watch the original Star Trek that show have tons of gadget thats still wasn’t invented at that time. But 20 yrs later we can see some of it being created.

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