Dialaphone Heroes: MPMan F10 MP3 Player

Saehan's MPMan F10

The MPMan F10 was the world’s first mass-produced MP3 player and launched in 1998 by Korean manufacturer Saehan Information Systems.

It boasted an impressive (for its time) 32MB flash memory which was upgradable to a heftier 64MB. On average, the device allowed around 32 minutes of music – equivalent to around eight separate tracks – to be stored.

The device, which featured a minuscule LCD screen to display playback information, could also be connected to PCs via a parallel port. The MPMan F10 ran on a rechargeable battery pack, which was known to provide up to nine hours of use – an impressive feature which is still better than many hard drive-based players we see today.

Upon its release MPMan F10 would set you back a whopping £250, although due to minimal advertising and its lesser known manufacturing brand, the world didn’t seem quite ready to fork out so much on this new technology.

Just a few months later the Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300 was unleashed and after becoming the subject of a lawsuit (it was claimed the player violated the 1992 US Home Recordings Act) the flurry of media attention eclipsed the F10 even further.

But, while the Rio may have quickly become a household name, Saehan soon established the F10 and it eventually gained its much deserved status on the MP3 market.

A mere three years later Apple burst on to the scene with its first iPod. The device became an instant success which resulted in explosive growth in the MP3 player market and the likes of MPMan, Rio and other pioneers just couldn’t keep up.

Regardless of the knock-backs it suffered, when you look back to the days of the MPMan F10 it’s clear to see how far music technology has come. We’re sure had it not been for Saehan’s first MP3 offering future advancements could have steered portable music devices in a very different direction indeed.

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