In the early days of mp3 players, before the iPod changed everything, before iTunes and before CD’s seemed obsolete (they were always obsolete to me) there was the RIO 600.
Rio shatters the personal sound barrier with customizable features and high-end audio you simply cannot get anywhere else! Capture and playback up to 1 hour of digital-quality music from the Internet or your CDs. Seize your audio, master your mix, retool your memory, even select your faceplate color - it’s radical freedom of choice. Rio 600 supports the dominant audio formats like MP3 and Windows Media, and can be upgraded to emerging digital standards so you can keep your Rio up-to-date. It holds 1 hour of digital quality music (32MB) or 16 hours of spoken word. Rio 600 features the following play modes: repeat one track, all tracks, or random play. Rio 600 has no moving parts so you can take the Rio anywhere and it’ll never skip a beat. Featherweight ergonomic design and large, easy-to-read LCD make it perfect for extreme listening activities.
Of course almost none of that was true, the RIO was a piece of crap. It worked half the time and made transporting an hour worth of music more trouble than it was worth.
There had been some mp3 players available before the RIO from companies we no longer associate with portable music. The big name at the time was the Creative jukebox, roughly the size and shape of a portable cd player.
Then came the iPod, it was completely different. I remember the first time I saw one. With it’s white acrylic shell and white headphones, it stood out. This was my freshman year of high school and it cost $500, well north of anything I could afford. But I wanted it. Up until then apple was known for the beige Apple II and those fruity iMacs. This literally changed all of that.