Saturday, January 22, 2011

Old School Tech: Rio PMP300

A few weeks ago I posted an Old School Tech photo, and no one (except my wife) ventured a guess. Maybe it was too easy? Maybe no one knew? Maybe no one bothered. :-)

In any case, here it is again for your viewing pleasure:

As you probably noticed in the title, this is a Diamond Rio PMP300. So, you might be asking, "What was the Rio PMP300?" Well, it was one of the first (or arguably the first successful) commercially available MP3 player in the United States. It came out in late 1998 at a price of about $200. That's about $263 in today's dollars, the price of a 32GB (not MB) iPod Touch or 64GB Zune.

I think I purchased mine for around $75 in early 1999 from a site like (an early competitor to during a promotion. (Aside: Said promotion may have been part of the downfall of this particular shopping website, as it no longer exists today. I believe the site burst its own bubble before the tech bubble burst in 2000.)

The Rio has 32MB of on-board memory and can be expanded using a SmartMedia card. I have an extra 32MB card. It connects to your computer via a parallel port adapter, as most PCs did not have USB ports back in 1998-1999. It runs on one AA battery. The battery door on mine is broken, which apparently was one of the Rio's design flaws.

The Rio is significant because it was the reason the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed suit against Diamond (maker of the Rio) claiming it violated a 1992 law. The RIAA did not like MP3 players in the early years, claiming they made people steal music and become pirates. The suit was eventually lost and Diamond was able to sell its Rio PMP300 again. This lead to the eventual rise of Digital Rights Management (DRM) for music for many years, thanks to the RIAA's paranoia. DRM was eventually dropped around 2009 on most every online music service.

My Rio still has music on it and still works, though I don't have a Windows 98 machine from which I can load software so it's stuck with the Josie and the Pussycats album for now.


Anonymous said...

Parallel port, that's great. Looking forward to more devices.

RG Russell said...

I have one of these and I'd like to know what kind of connector /data cable does it use and where can I get a Smart Media card