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Apple Admits iPod Is From 1970s UK

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the thats-why-mine-is-filled-with-beegees dept.

Music 358

MattSparkes writes "Apple has all but admitted that a British man invented the iPod over three decades ago in the 1970s. Unfortunately, he let the patent run out. When another company tried to grab a portion of its iPod profits, though, Apple went running to him to defend them in court. In return, it looks like he's in for a share of the cash generated from the sale of 163 million iPods."

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358 comments

creators' planet/population rescue lifts spirits (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919273)

greed, fear & ego are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of yOUR dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & the notion of prosperity, not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one. see you on the other side of it. the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
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http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/world/middleeast/03kurdistan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080708/cheney_climate.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080805/pl_politico/12308;_ylt=A0wNcxTPdJhILAYAVQms0NUE
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080903/ts_nm/environment_arctic_dc;_ylt=A0wNcwhhcb5It3EBoy2s0NUE

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

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http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

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the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

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whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

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& pretending that it isn't happening here;

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all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Yo-yo-yo! U dont let patents RUN out they just DO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919913)

ur2 stupid 2 no?

Seems Like A Bad Summary (5, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919285)

This guy's patents would have expired before the iPod reached the market. It sounds like Apple used the inventor's testimony to establish the prior art in order to invalidate some patentee's claims.

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919353)

particularly since the device/patent preceeds every other solid state mp3 player, not just the iPod (which wasn't the "first" by any measure).

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (4, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919423)

Yeah. It sounds that the patent in question was meant to knock out a similarly over-broad patent that was asserted against Apple. It's not like Apple bought this guy out to keep him quiet; he probably knows a lot about the state of the art around the time personal audio devices were being invented.

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (5, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919889)

Not only that - but the first iPods were NOT solid state, they used a small hard drive - so his invention has NOTHING to do with iPods.

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (5, Insightful)

alexhs (877055) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919413)

Also from TFA, the patent was simply about a (single song) music player with solid-state storage, which means it's the ancestor of every "MP3 player", not only the iPod, which wasn't the first MP3 player anyway.

A very bad summary indeed, and a quite bad article to start with.

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (1)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919935)

The first digital audio player, perhaps. MP3 wasn't developed until the nineties.

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (3, Informative)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919803)

In fact, the summary isn't right. According to TFA - The dude just got hired as a consultant by Apple. Sounds to me like he's getting some credit.

It may be overdue, but it's not as bad as the article implies.

Re:Seems Like A Bad Summary (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919829)

I read the summary, and that was exactly the conclusion I drew. This summary seems pretty accurate to me.

Not patent-worthy (5, Insightful)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919289)

The IPod may have made Apple plenty of money, but the concept isn't revolutionary- its evolutionary. Any person/company could have imagined such a music player. The only thing the world was waiting for was the right technology to make it a reality.

Re:Not patent-worthy (3, Informative)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919427)

the iPod wasn't exactly the first mp3 player to be released anyway, just the first successful one

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mp3_player [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not patent-worthy (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919523)

Depends on how you define "success". The Rio players were quite successful well before Apple came along. Apple's was the first (and only, so far) to become a cultural phenomenon, but there was plenty of money being made in the MP3 player market before they got there.

Re:Not patent-worthy (5, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919665)

Funny thing. Last night I was at a restaurant and being one of those people who can't spend more than one minute of idleness without something to read, I read the bottle of ketchup.

On the bottle was a picture of company founder Henry John Heinz, and a quote:

To do a common thing uncommonly well, brings success.

Re:Not patent-worthy (2, Insightful)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919687)

well in that case, Apple showed there could be even MORE money to be made. Thus they were very successful. I'm sure the shareholders would agree as well.

Re:Not patent-worthy (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919543)

the iPod wasn't exactly the first mp3 player to be released anyway, just the first successful one in marketing and generating hype

There, corrected for you.

Re:Not patent-worthy (4, Funny)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919755)

the iPod wasn't exactly the first mp3 player to be released anyway, just the first successful one in marketing and generating hype

There, fixed that for you.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Not patent-worthy (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919575)

According to the linked wikipedia article the Rio PMP300 was the first successful one (the fist portable digital media player was the MPMan F10). I took Apple 3 years to come with the iPod.

Re:Not patent-worthy (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919635)

Not even the first successful mp3 player; Linux Journal had one on the cover (IIRC) a couple of years before the first iPod was launched.

Re:Not patent-worthy (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919477)

There are cases in which the original idea is everything, the implementation can be done by anyone (i.e. the egg of Columbus). In this case, the idea is obvious, the implementation is the tricky part. That Kramer guy was just the 'first poster', he did what anyone else eventually thought about, only he patented it first.

Re:Not patent-worthy (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919617)

thank goodness we can pre-patent the future.

chances are we had the flying car, but after intense litigation it was reduced to a '75 datsun with no rear seats and a dozen helium balloons tied to the antenna. quantum teleportation is actually a workaround for regular teleportation, which as it turns out has been copywritten for over a century. it also requires a fat man in a gurdle with fake hair to operate properly.

Re:Not patent-worthy (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919735)

You can't patent things that aren't feasible with current technology. The patent in question was on a device capable of storing about three and a half minutes of audio in solid-state storage. This would have been hideously expensive in the '70s, but the device was possible and was brought to market.

Re:Not patent-worthy (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919677)

In the 1970s it sure was.
What is clearly evolutionary today would have been mind boggling science fiction in the 1970s.
The cheapest PC you can buy today makes a high end workstation from the 80s look like a toy. In the 70s hard drives might have fit into the trunk of your car. If you had a big car. A megabyte of ram was what you may have in a super computer. The idea of compressing audio and storing gigabytes of data in your pocket?
Just a little more practical than warp drive.

In the yearly 80s I was saving up for a Commodore 64. They had just been anounced and I decided that was the computer I really wanted. I got mine in November of 82.
When I got it my friend that was in college asked me why I got it. He was taking programing and asked. "What will you ever do that takes 64k of memory?"
So in the 70s yes it very well could have been patent-worthy.

Re:Not patent-worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919747)

Any person/company could have imagined such a music player.

Isn't that the reason patents are all about? Sure any person could have imagined the wheel, any person could have imagined a song, any person could have imagined even a box or even underwear. That's what patents are about, getting the right for being the first who thought about that!

Re:Not patent-worthy (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919823)

Patents are for implementation of ideas, not ideas themselves.

Re:Not patent-worthy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919905)

but the concept isn't revolutionary- its evolutionary

Most inventions are evolutionary, in reading Kane's patent he hits on all the prior technolgies, patents, and inventions on which he based his evolutionary design.

http://patents.ic.gc.ca/cipo/cpd/en/patent/1186411/summary.html [ic.gc.ca]

He was definitely on the right track but the semiconductor technology wasn't ready.

And while I was skeptical at first when reading the article he actually had a decent patent, much better than the guy who claimed to invent the Sony Walkman when all he did was invent a belt to hold components for a portable player. He listed all kinds of concepts in his patent, i.e. miniaturized high fidelity audio components, but he did not invent them or the Walkman.

Re:Not patent-worthy (1)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919923)

The only thing the world was waiting for was the right marketing to make it a reality.

There fixed that for you.

I was an 'early adopter' for mp3 players (a little out of character for me...don't have HD or blue-ray ;) I always saw it as a data storage and music file compression issue more than anything. I completely agree that the ipod was evolutionary. I'd just go a little further to say it was Apple's marketing and design (click wheel) that made the technology blow up. Also the timing of the introduction of the ipod was very favorable.

And let's not forget itunes. In the late 90s I got all my music from friend's CD's or from p2p networks. itunes was a digital music delivery system that the RIAA could at least tolerate, which allowed Apple to launch a national advertising campaign to the masses, which in turn made the ipod the first mp3 player alot of people ever saw.

From TFA:

filed a patent for a digital music player that stored just three and a half minutes of music to a solid state chip

As others have pointed out, the idea of storing digital music on a portable player isn't really novel. Anyone who understands 1's and 0's could imagine it, but this guy actually had the will to build a prototype and patent it.

From TFA:

Kramer is now in talks with the company to agree on a compensation package

hope he gets a pantload of money.

yay, patents! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919297)

glad to see a patent by a small-time inventor FINALLY being used to promote progress and innovation!

what ever would we have done if this guy hadn't patented his idea??

So Close to Perfect! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919319)

Now we just need the news to break that this man was once employed by The Beatles' label and you will hear the sound of a thousand lawyers climaxing at once.

Re:So Close to Perfect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919619)

Fap, your honor!

Not just the iPod (5, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919329)

TFA suggests the patent was just for a method of storing music on a solid state storage device, which covers any number of MP3 players out there.

However, the fact that the patent lapsed and others got to use the tech seems to me to be an illustration of how the patent system is supposed to work. Although, the fact that he could have actually extended the patent if he had the money to is a little disturbing. How long can you extend international patents, assuming you keep paying the fees?

Re:Not just the iPod (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919493)

How long can you extend international patents, assuming you keep paying the fees?

As long as you want to keep paying money to whoever is selling you international patents, plots on the moon and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Re:Not just the iPod (4, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919569)

"Extension" here just means getting the normal 20 year term. He lost his after only nine years.

Re:Not just the iPod (1)

alexhs (877055) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919573)

the fact that the patent lapsed and others got to use the tech seems to me to be an illustration of how the patent system is supposed to work

But is it ? I thought the first and foremost intention of patents was to reward inventors ? Only the second intention is to get a public domain pool of technologies when the patent expires.

One could argue that patents in that case could have prevented the earlier emergence of MP3 players. In that case it's obviously wrong, as the technology wasn't ready yet in 1988 (neither solid state storage capacity nor compression techniques), but it already happened in other cases (like for the airbag IIRC).

Re:Not just the iPod (3, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919741)

I thought the first and foremost intention of patents was to reward inventors ? Only the second intention is to get a public domain pool of technologies when the patent expires.

No. In the United States, under the Constitution the only legitimate use of patents (and copyrights) is to "promote the progress of science and useful arts" [cornell.edu]. Rewarding inventors is not the goal; getting technologies out there for people to use is.

Of course, it's not like the Constitution means much. Under our corporate plutocracy, the only "legitimate" use of patents (and copyrights, and pretty much all other laws) is to fatten the pockets of the investment class.

Re:Not just the iPod (1)

villindesign (1260484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919809)

From the US Constitution: "Art. 1, Sec. 8. The Congress shall have power . . . To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." From the Constitution, it seems that the intention of patents is "to promote the progress of science and useful arts." The means to do this is the patent.

Re:Not just the iPod (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919941)

But is it ? I thought the first and foremost intention of patents was to reward inventors ? Only the second intention is to get a public domain pool of technologies when the patent expires.

No, you're thinking of copyright. Patents have one goal only - to encourage disclosure of innovations. When patents were introduced, trade secrets were the only way of protecting innovations. If you invented an improvement on some part of a steam engine, for example, you would typically add it and a load of extra meaningless bells and whistles to your new engine. Your competitors would then take one apart and try to figure out which of the changes improved performance, and then incorporate them. This meant that a lot of effort was being spent developing the same improvements (with or without reverse engineering). The idea of a patent was that the first person to invent something could safely disclose it and other people could then work on other improvements.

Re:Not just the iPod (3, Informative)

villindesign (1260484) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919715)

There is no such thing as an international patent. Patents are per country, and in the UK, the patent term is up to 20 years from the filing date.

Re:Not just the iPod (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919919)

I would suspect it is similar to the US system where you are granted a 20 year patent, but you have to pay the patent fee every 5 years to keep it alive for the full time.

OMG (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919335)

F1RST P0ST!

Re:OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919535)

... in your collection of awfully stupid shit that you will write all over the internet. Congratulations.

Huh? (4, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919341)

In 1979 Kane Kramer from Hertfordshire filed a patent for a digital music player that stored just three and a half minutes of music to a solid state chip - limiting media options to just one short song. Nonetheless, a company was set up by Kramer to bring the IXI to a commercial release, but it slipped into the public domain in 1988 when the firm failed to raise the £60,000 needed to renew international patents. Because of this patent lapse, Kramer has received no money from the sale of any of the 163 million iPods Apple has so far sold.

Huh? The patent would have expired two years before the iPod was introduced! At most, Kramer could have earned some royalties from Rio and those other early MP3-player makers whose names escape me.

Re:Huh? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919547)

Huh? The iPod was introduced in 2001. The patent expired in 1988. That would make it 12 years. :P Other than that you're right that others were before the iPod.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919725)

Your parent was talking about what would've happened if the guy HAD managed the cash to renew it for the entire duration (the patent would then have expired in 1999)

how? (4, Interesting)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919349)

So..explain to me how this patent was granted? I was under the impression that in order for a patent to be granted, a prototype has to be built. I wasn't aware flash drives even existed back in 1979.

Re:how? (5, Informative)

gruntled (107194) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919381)

In the very old days, you had to build an object to get a patent. That requirement hasn't existed for a long time.

Re:how? (2, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919383)

So..explain to me how this patent was granted? I was under the impression that in order for a patent to be granted, a prototype has to be built. I wasn't aware flash drives even existed back in 1979.

If that is the case, how then, can business method and software patents even exist? (I agree with you, however, that this is how it *should* be).

Re:how? (3, Insightful)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919483)

So..explain to me how this patent was granted? I was under the impression that in order for a patent to be granted, a prototype has to be built. I wasn't aware flash drives even existed back in 1979.

If that is the case, how then, can business method and software patents even exist? (I agree with you, however, that this is how it *should* be).

Requirement to build a prototype would favor large corporations and put individual inventor in a huge disadvantage. A lot of modern inventions, especially in electronics industry, would take a very large amount of money to prototype.

-Em

Re:how? (4, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919425)

ROM. EPROM. PROM. EAROM. EEPROM.

Lameness filter encountered. Don't use acronyms. It's like yelling.

Re:how? (0, Troll)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919625)

Ignorance filter circumvented.
GTFO, first RTFA then RTFM and then STFU.
Smart people need to use acronyms, it's like learning. Complex things just can't be properly conveyed by repeating the same way too long expression over and over again. If you leave them out you confuse things.

At least I can rest assured that you'll never work at the UN, WTO, BMW, DMV, KBR or NASA.

Re:how? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919879)

It seems you never encountered Slashdot's comment filter.

The parent was quoting the "warning message" he got ("Lameness filter encountered. Don't use acronyms. It's like yelling.") when he replied "ROM, EPROM, PROM, EAROM, EEPROM" to "I wasn't aware flash drives even existed back in 1979.".

Re:how? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919479)

EEPROM and EPROM have been around a long time. EEPROM since 1983 and EPROM since 1971. Both are flash memmory.

Re:how? (2, Informative)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919539)

It wouldn't necessarily have to be flash - you could use EPROMs or mask-programmed ROMs if you didn't want to change what was recorded on the chip. The Psion Organiser used a pair of removable cartridges with an EPROM built in that had data blown into it to when it was saved to. When it was full you used a "Datapak Formatter" which was just a UV Eprom Eraser to clear the chip back to a usable state.

You wouldn't get much on an EPROM from the late 1970s - to store 3 minutes of CD-quality music you'd need around 30MB of memory! If you wanted to store mono, 8-bit, 16kHz (approximately AM radio quality) you'd need approximately 1MB per minute. I doubt you could do it with a single chip, but maybe a handful of large EPROMs would work. Technically the device could be very very simple - say 4MB of EPROMs and their address decoding logic, a 22-bit counter (2^22 = 4194304), a 16kHz clock generator and an 8-bit DAC. None of these things would be difficult to make using 1979 technology, although all those EPROMS would be expensive. Note that this doesn't allow for any form of compression, which is the big breakthrough in solid-state media players.

Re:how? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919943)

Didn't ADPCM exist in 1979? It's not much compared to today's standards, but a 2:1 or even 4:1 ratio is nothing to sneeze at.

Re:how? (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919641)

Maybe not "flash drives", but solid state erasable memory did in many formats like EAROM, EEPROM, UVEPROM etc.

In the early-mid 1980s, the company I worked for had designed their own sound effects boards for use on flight and vehicle simulators with digitised copies of real sounds in EPROM.

The lab trick was to rig up a tank gunnery board to a speaker behind someone's desk and let them have it when they sat down!

Happy days!

This is completely typical for the UK (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919355)

Many clever inventions. The banks however, won't touch anything but property with a ten foot pole.

 

Right (3, Funny)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919365)

So - let me get this straight, he invented the "iPod" before stored music was even available? Before any substantial file compression existed? Right.. I actually, ummm, invented televisions back during the Taft administration.

Re:Right (4, Informative)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919467)

Sound was compressible and storable back then. Very high-end answering machines, note recorders, and PBX's used it. Think EEPROMS or even conventional RAM. Most everything was done in hardware, however -- sampling and digitizing, etc.

Re:Right (1)

spike1 (675478) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919667)

Are you seriously trying to suggest that no-one had digitised audio back in 1979?

That there were no compression algorithms?
Data compression work mainly began in the 19*40*s.
Software data compression began in earnest in the mid 1970s (using a technique originally developed in the '50s).

OK, his music player is very different to what we have today. I imagine his idea revolved around the idea popular in consoles of the time, buy a song on a cartridge and plug it into the device, rather than download it, so it wouldn't matter if there "was no stored music available", because he would've licensed the tech to music companies (or they would've licensed their music to him) and he would've manufacted cartridges with the music on them.

It was still ahead of its time, considering all you had available for portable music was radio or audio tape back then.

Re:Right (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919775)

While this notion sounds a bit quaint to modern ears, in times past it was understood that the word "invention" referred to something that, heretofore, had not yet existed.

It is only within the last generation or so that the word "invention" has come to mean the first formal description of something that already exists or that is in the process of entering the market. Back in the day, the "patent office" was not the equivalent of a frontier "land office".

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919373)

is first

Re:first post (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919441)

More like third fail.

This is why patents are all bogus... (1)

mspohr (589790) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919389)

My friends and I also 'invented' the iPod. We all took small automobile cassette players, hooked them up to batteries and headphones. We put this in a small pack so that we could have our tunes while skiing in Lake Tahoe in the 70s. Sony and others came along later with their 'Walkman'.

This was interesting and innovative but should it have earned a patent?

WTF? (3, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919397)

He didn't invent the iPod, he patented (and didn't actually develop if I understood correctly) a digital music player.

Here's what I don't understand : what does it have to do with the iPod, shouldn't every other digital music player be equally affected, the patent slipped in the public in 1988, so why on Earth is that guy getting compensated by Apple??

Re:WTF? (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919469)

so why on Earth is that guy getting compensated by Apple

Perhaps because he was helpfull?

Re:WTF? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919511)

How, that's what I don't understand.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

kithrup (778358) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919601)

He was "useful" because Apple is being sued for patent infringement by another company. By showing that this guy invented something similar (if not identical -- I haven't read any of the patents in question, so I'm going solely on what I've read elsewhere!) the company suing Apple loses to prior art.

However, I've seen absolutely no indication that Apple paid him. I would assume they paid his travel expenses, and may even have paid him as an expert witness, but I've seen absolutely nothing indicating that he is getting anything else. In fact, TFA explicitly says he's not, contrary to what the submitter said.

Re:WTF? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919765)

However, I've seen absolutely no indication that Apple paid him.

However, Apple recently contacted Kramer and hired him as a consultant in a legal case against another company that claimed the iPod infringed on its own patents, Burst.

Sounds like they did give him money if they hired him.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919507)

Try reading at least the fucking summary. Jesus Christ. He patented the concept of the digital music player and it was very insightful for 1979. You are right he didn't invent the ipod and Apple hired him as a consultant to have apple claim prior art.

Re:WTF? (0, Flamebait)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919661)

Not only did I read the summary, but I also RTFA! (sorry if I just blew anyone's mind). Mmmh let's see, he took the Walkman idea, replaced the tape with an EPROM, patented it, and 20 years after the patent expired he wants money from anyone who had a vaguely similar idea? That's what I don't get. And as it's been pointed out, it's not like the iPod claimed to be the first such player anyways, so I really don't get it..

Re:WTF? (1)

Fusen (841730) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919827)

If you actually did RTFA then you have piss poor reading skills. He doesn't "want money from everyone doing anything vaguely similar", Apple approached him so they could use his case in a SEPERATE lawsuit they have that involved patent infringement. This guy is just being used by Apple as a prior art example, they are also giving him money for helping them. Do you understand now?

Burst.com assholes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919859)

They have become a patent troll and sued bunch of big companies on some obvious patents granted in the past 10-15 years. Apple was naturally targeted because they're the biggest of them all. The thinking here is if Apple caves everyone else will fall in line and pony up the cash because there is a precedence.

Kramer is getting money from Apple in exchange for bolstering their case in court with 10 hour testimony. So to tally up,

Burst.com gets a settlement.
Apple gets immunity from future lawsuits
Kramer douchebag gets to claim he invented the iPod ...and some obscure site gets on /.'s frontpage by publishing a scandalous headline

Yeah, right (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919399)

This sounds like just a legal ploy. Find an old patent that has expired, and use it to claim that's where you got the idea from. Throw some cash at the person who filed the patent so that he testifies in court.

"Yup, yup. I invented that thinggummy 30 years ago!"

Yeah, sure. Sounds like a standard defense. On the bright side though, this defense can be used to defend Open Source projects against patents.

A biit of overstatement (2, Insightful)

Em Ellel (523581) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919411)

Of course there have been solid state chips that stored sounds before ipod - I mean you could buy one in Rat Shack in the 80's for a few bucks. Does this really make this guy an inventor of iPod? I don't think so. Its like crediting the guy who invented the wheel with creation of the Prius.

on the other hand (from the article):

Kramer isn't resting on his laurels, though. He is currently working on a new device which will record telephone calls and send the audio file via email. The device is expected to be used for business meetings and interviews.

I believe this is something that has been offered by most teleconference bridges and corp voice mail systems for at least 10 years. I know I was getting WAV files of my voice mail via email back in 1999.... not to mention "visual voice mail" on iPhones.

-Em

Re:A biit of overstatement (2, Funny)

NoisySplatter (847631) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919475)

But his will be called the iMail and will use proven technology to do things other devices already do in a proprietary vaguely patentable way. In spite of this he will fail to achieve any results himself and after the patent expires he will then make his money by being paid to act as a coprorate shill in a scam lawsuit.

Hmmmmm.. (2, Funny)

spasmhead (1301953) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919443)

More amusing than this story is trying to imagine what a 1970's iPod would have been like. I'm sure its "ultra portable" battery would have needed wheels but the white headphones, which would be so heavy as to break your neck, would still scream "MUG ME!".

Apple admits iMac based on 1940's patent (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919505)

on something called a "transistor". Apparently Apple hovered in the wings waiting for the patent on this technology to expire so they could steal it.

Who is this Taco fellow and why can't he read for comprehension?

Click-wheel ripoff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919509)

Bang&Olufsen invented the click-wheel for their high-end cordless phones, but apparently did not patent the design. They probably should have...

Heh, so any music player is now an iPod? (2, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919521)

Why do they compare a player that can play music from a solid state chip with an iPod? Such music players already existed before the iPod: MP3 players from Creative and many others. Apple just made a similar MP3 player and used its name to make it sell better. They're doing as if the iPod is the only such portable player in existance, which is exactly as ignorant as saying that World Of Warcraft is the MMORPG!

Say WHAT (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919559)

According to the article, the guy came up with a digital music player in 1979. Everyone on Slashdot should know that Apple's wasn't the first digital music player, nor even the first commercially successful one, not by a long shot. So no news here, except that Apple hired this guy to help defend themselves against a patent troll.

Wow (2, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919583)

Unfortunately, he let the patent run out.

Now there's a sentence I didn't expect to see on Slashdot.

Apple took the day off? (4, Funny)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919599)

"Apple was unavailable for comment at the time of writing."

What, the entire company?

So? (4, Insightful)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919659)

Lots of people invent interesting devices. But inventing and bringing to market *at a point when the customer/market is ready to accept it* are two different things. Few items succeed merely on technical merits and most succeed purely on marketing (how else to explain the music top-40 list or clothing fashion?).

I'd say the iPod is the product of a Wurlitzer jukebox crossed with the Sony Walkman and fueled by the Napster music-sharing craze. Napster was the greater technological breakthrough, since it involved new economic as well as social dynamics and rocked an entire industry. The Sony Walkman enabled personal, portable music, and the jukebox gave access to a wide catalog. All were well understood ideas, but the iPod brought them together and Apple marketed it well. Breakthrough? Not really, I'd say it is an application and refinement of existing technologies enabling new behaviors but technology has allowed the device to scale to a point that it is practical.

Before people laugh (3, Informative)

voss (52565) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919729)

http://www.kanekramer.com/html/development.htm [kanekramer.com]

http://www.kanekramer.com/downloads/IXI-Report.pdf [kanekramer.com]

A very interesting business plan had the RIAA not been so technophobic they could have had digital music in stores years before high speed internet and a recording format that probably
been harder to duplicate.

Then again I can only imagine...
"IXI music player new for 1992, 8mb of storage,
DOS, amiga and atari compatible...mac coming soon"

Horrible Summary... (4, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919731)

for anyone still confused by the summary, it would make more sense if you changed the title from "Apple Admits IPod Is From 1970s UK" to

"Patent Troll Foiled by Original Inventor of Digital Music Player"

Patents are not extendable. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24919737)

Apple has all but admitted that a British man invented the iPod over three decades ago in the 1970's. Unfortunately, he let the patent run out.

The only way to let a patent "run out" is to patent it in the first place.

Once you patent something, the patent will "run out" in 20 years. Patents expire and are never "extendable" except if the patent laws are changed via an act of government.

The whole concept is ridiculous (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919787)

As far as IP patents go. All a music player does, at its heart, when you go back this far, is maintain a file system for various sorts of files, and plays them back. To that end, one might well argue that unmanned spacecraft have been doing that at least through the 1970s, indeed, computers have been maintaining files and playing them back, even before. Digital music goes way, way back...

If anything is novel about the iPod, it is the user interface, and its bundling with iTunes. But the idea of a multimedia playback device being unique or patentable is utterly absurd. They are just computers, that's all.

Offtopic but still curious (1)

bdwebb (985489) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919789)

How is it that the phrase 'all but' is used to mean 'not quite, but almost'? It seems more appropriate that if something were 'all but' it would be basically 'everything except'.

msg for TackoMan .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919795)

That wagging dogs head is annoying .. I am never going to buy anything from that company - ever !!!

Digital-Music Player (0, Redundant)

fingers1122 (636011) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919869)

It's really unfair to say he invented the "iPod." Maybe at most he invented the digital-music player. It's really annoying that the brand name "iPod" has become synonymous with MP3 Player.

Summary. (5, Insightful)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 5 years ago | (#24919937)

Apple has all but admitted that a British man invented the iPod over three decades ago in the 1970's.

Interpretation: Apple has not admitted that a British man invented the iPod.

Unfortunately, he let the patent run out.

Interpretation: Like all patents, this patent expired.

When another company tried to grab a portion of its iPod profits, though, Apple went running to him to defend them in court

Interpretation: Apple used "prior art" to invalidate someone else's claim that they recently invented a "solid state audio recorder/player".

In return, it looks like he's in for a share of the cash generated from the sale of 163 million iPods.

Interpretation: His patent pre-dated the technology to make a decent flash audio recorder/player, and therefore he was unable to collect royalties on his patent. Apple and the world may give him a pat on the back for inventing the solid-state audio recorder/player, but it would be financially irresponsible for them to give him royalties on a long-expired patent.

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