Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

SongPro MP3 player for Game Boy

Ever since the Nintendo Game Boy came out in the late 80's, I've always wondered why more people didn't make use of the technology for something other than games.  There were a few small efforts here and there, and a few years ago an MP3 cartridge struggled to hit the market.

I say "struggled" because the SongPro was originally called the SongBoy, and the original plan was to manufacture the carts outside of Nintendo - both acts inspiring a suit from Nintendo.  After some bad press and Jesse Jackson being called in to mediate, SongPro finally hit shelves in 2000 with rap star Nelly contributing custom music on the included CD.

The $99 SongPro package was well thought out - the cart's form factor was more suited to the Game Boy Color (pictured here), but works on the GB Advance.  It supports MP3, WMA, even a custom format displaying pictures with music - all using standard SD memory cards.  The company even worked on pie-in-the-sky ideas like in-store kiosks for music purchase, and an online music store.

I admire the tenacity of the inventor, and many of his proposed ideas are important parts of current services like iTunes.  I don't see a product like this being too interesting today as a Game Boy isn't the pocket sized device that today's MP3 listeners demand.  On the other hand the old Game Boy offers a nice big screen for arranging your songs, and graphic control of EQ and other amenities, hence my using SongPro last week to play intermission tunes during a live music event. 

Cool as these features might be then or now, it wasn't enough to make the SongPro that much of a success.  The form factor of the cart was all wrong for the then newly released Game Boy Advance, and the combined cost of the game unit and the player was a bit expensive compared to MP3 players of the time. 

Of course, I found my SongPro clearanced for $10, so needless to say I think that the price was exactly right.

Business article on inventor
Forum entries about the unit


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