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Apple gives credit to originator of media players

updated 10:30 am EDT, Mon September 8, 2008

Original iPod creator?

Apple has finally given credit to a British man whose work was the inspiration behind the iPod, claims the Daily Mail. Kane Kramer, 52, is said to have created the technology that powers the digital music player nearly 30 years ago, but not received any royalties. Kramer original designed a device he called the IXI in 1979; though it would only have been capable of storing 3.5 minutes of music on a chip, Kramer was hopeful that capacity would improve over time.

Sketches outlined a credit-card sized player with a rectangular screen, and a central menu button to scroll through a selection of music tracks. Kramer acquired a worldwide patent and set up a company to further develop the concept, but after boardroom problems in 1988, he was unable to raise 60,000 needed to renew patents across 120 countries, leaving his idea public property.

Recognition of Kramer did not occur until Apple called upon him to help defend itself against Burst.com, which claimed to hold patents to technology in the iPod and deserve a cut of the profits.

Kramer is presently in negotiations with Apple for compensation relating to copyright on his drawings. To date, he has received only a consultancy fee for providing his expertise in the Burst case.

"To be honest, I was just so pleased that finally something that I had done which has been a huge success and changed the music industry was being acknowledged," says Kramer. "I was really quite emotional about it all."





by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    interesting

    So why did Apple settle with Burst?

  1. MeandmyMac

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    Good for him!

    With all the money that has filled Apple's coffers over the years with the sale of iPods, I hope Apple rewards him handsomely with a nice Royalty check. As Steve Jobs would say, 'it's good Karma'!

  1. 319please

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    Credit != Compensation

    It's a long way from idea to market. I'm glad that credit goes where credit is due for seminal ideas. The notion, however, that just thinking something up makes it yours, is patently (pun intended) absurd.

    Apple spent the $$$$$ to do R&D, negotiate rights to distribute content, built a content delivery system, built a global manufacturing and distribution channel, built an entire ecosystem of complementary products, did the advertising, marketing, technical support, warranty repair/replacement, defended itself against lawsuits, and, by the way, did all of these things and managed to add value to the company's owners, AAPL shareholders.

    Mr. Kramer did ... a nice sketch, got patents in 120 countries, then was unable to renew his patents because he could not come up with the $$$$ (okay, ) necessary to protect his ideas. This implies (though Mr. Kramer knows the details of his efforts) that Mr. Kramer was unable to get ENOUGH people to buy into his idea JUST TO RENEW THE PATENTS, let alone try to make, market, sell, and support the product.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    just goes to show ya

    being an inventor - with no big corporation or their lawyers behind you - is a very lonely road. He could easily have died in the 30 years between his invention and the royalties he is now getting. And if it were not for Burst, it's likely Apple would not have given him the time of day let alone negotiated with him to pay royalties. It was only the need to have him testify for them in the lawsuit, which provided him with the leverage to get what he deserves.

  1. dafalcon

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +10

    iPodNN gets it right.

    Thank you iPodNN for not posting the same sensational headline as many other news outlets: "Apple Admits They Did Not Invent the iPod", which is so obviously incorrect on so many levels! Yes, this man was the originator of this type of portable media player device and absolutely deserves to be credited for his work (though the reasons for this timing by Apple are not actually at all altruistic). No, this man did not invent the iPod, which has been an amazing feat of engineering, user interface design, and marketing. So again, thanks, iPodNN for the accurate headline.

  1. mr100percent

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Nomad

    Apple wasn't the first player of that sort, what about the Rio or Nomad? Did they acknowledge his idea as well?

  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    Patents should only be al

    Patents should only be granted if the party intends to build a product and it should not be given one until at least a working prototype is built. Putting a drawing on a piece of paper seems to be quite a tiny piece of evidence if anything. And when was that drawing actually done? I guess he needed retirement money.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    What about my ideas?

    I come up with drawings of cool products all the time. No, I don't have the resources or knowhow to bring them to life. Too bad I can't afford to get every one of them patented. I could use some money in 30 years.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    England eh

    I don't know much about England, but I think in this situation you have to give the man a quid. whatever a quid is.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Interesting.

    Regardless of the timing, I think it's awesome that Apple is being nice to this guy. Seriously, If I'd invented something and lost the patent only to see a corporation snap it up, I'd want royalties too. Kudos to Apple for giving this guy the credit he deserves.

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