HP should own the killer device of online music not just rebranding Apple’s iPod

“Apple’s iPod is the killer device of online music, and HP very well should have owned it. Back in 1999, researchers at Compaq designed a 30 Gbyte portable music player that weighed 9.5 ounces, could fit in your pocket and had 10 hours of battery life. The Personal Jukebox – aka PJB – went on sale for more than $500, and Compaq received a handy patent for its work,” Ashlee Vance reports for The Register.

“But the PJB is not all that interesting in and of itself. Plenty of companies were busy working on their own music players at the time. The demand for such devices was pretty clear, as consumers rushed to organize their music on PCs and wanted a way to carry the tunes around,” Vance reports. “The PJB is interesting because Compaq was working on the product so early and because the company became part of HP in 2002.”

Vance reports, “Much of the HP/Compaq deal centered around the two companies linking their PC, server and storage operations. Make no mistake, the acquisition of Compaq was meant to bring HP as close as possible to rivaling IBM for big business deals. Furthering some weird Compaq music player project probably did not fall real high on the list of post-merger ‘things that need to get done.’ Maybe it should have.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, but did Compaq have a version of iTunes and the iTunes Music Store?


  1. What makes Ashlee Vance think the world would have been as enamored with the Compaq device as people are with the iPod? As I remember, the iPod was not the first hard drive music player, only the best.

  2. i’ll take her seriously when she doesnt’ refer to the ipod as “the killer device of online music”.

    online music? i wish reporters would do research before they write this junk.

  3. The other thing about HP. … HP had the option of being the first personal computer because Wozniak and Jobs were rejected when they they pitched their very first computer to HP before starting Apple.

  4. The iPod was definitely not the first hard disk player. Among the first, and certainly the one that was great enough to take off, but not THE first.

    One thing I do think HP should get credit for: I believe they created the modern optical mouse (meaning the ones that don’t use a special mouse pad). Microsoft was, I think, the first to market with the technology, but it came from HP. Anyone know more of that story?

  5. The register are getting almost as bad as cnet recently, I can’t remember the last time I read anything on there that said anything favourable about Apple. Every article recently about file sharing, drm or online music, seems to contain a dig at Apple. There main complaint is that music sold online shouldn’t contain any form of drm, and Apple is bed with the RIAA as it includes a drm. Not once have they stated exactly what the restrictions are, and I doubt they have even bothered to find out.

    I guess when there are this many ‘journalists’ Mac bashing, Apple must be really scaring people!

  6. Sirocco.

    Their opinion is that DRM is bad. Any DRM. So they don’t need to state the extent of the DRM.

    When the store was first announced, they did describe the DRM in detail, but may not have done so since.

    I don’t like everything The Reg publishes. They are often very critical of Apple, but that doesn’t mean they are anti-apple. If they were anti-Apple, they wouldn’t be selling this…


  7. It’s great that HP is working with Apple, but the problem for me is that HP is just about the worse computer company out there.

    My mom owned a Compaq and it died on her in a month, then after 2 years of constantly sending it back (really, back and forth), the power unit went bad and she got a Toshiba (she wont use Mac b/c of Paint Shop Pro, a sad application, actually).

    My brother had an HP tower and it lasted him 2 years of many problems. Now he’s using our old family computer from ’99 with parts out of the HP. He’s saving up for a G5.

    My cousin’s friend bought an HP laptop 7 months ago and it lasted him 6 months. For $1,500, Best Buy has it right now and it’s being serviced. It ran poorly throughout the 6 months. He’s going to sell it and get a G4 iBook�he’s in high school and looking for a career in video editing.

    As I remember or hear any more HP stories, I’ll be sure to post them in other MDN “feedbacks”.

  8. They might be willing to make a fast buck out of the Mac community, but they can hardly be considered as offering balanced views. Andrew Orlowski seems to be their regualar Mac reporter, and he made a snide remark about the ‘Mac Taliban’ in one article about iTMS, and his review of the keynote wasn’t that balanced either (http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/39/34736.html). If he has that little interest in the Mac community, then why is he writing about it? Funny that there are numeropus reports/reviews of the iLife 04 but no mention of it on the register.

    It’s all well and good being anti DRM, but they don’t put forward any alternative, they just think that all music should be free, which is fine, but I can’t see the record companies agreeing to it.

    I still read the register tho, mainly for the BOFH these days.

  9. Record companies not agreeing to free music.? What about the artists, song writers, producers and people involved in making music? STOP blaming the “record companies”. Everyone is entitled to make a living and being paid for their efforts. I’m sure posters here that work don’t turn over their paychecks to others.

  10. This news made me smile when I checked the UK news site – “The Guardian”, this morning:

    “The technical gremlins which have haunted so many dotcom endeavours claimed another victim yesterday as Coca-Cola announced a new online music service only to have its website fail.”


  11. pkradd:

    Couldn’t agree more…. all the P2P advocates on here seem to overlook the fact that they are freely trading someone’s career. If you’re a musician, it’s hard enough to get a deal from the independents let alone the major labels, and then to have some b*stard rip you off online would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

    The P2P crowd are probably the same ones who don’t believe in paying for software either [I know several people who have pirated copies of QuarkXPress, Photoshop, Acrobat, etc].

  12. You guys crack me up. The Register is totally pro-Mac. I think they publish the occasional neutral/negative article just to give themselves a little credibility.

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