Eliot Van Buskirk writes a fun, if nerdy column for CNet about the world's first MP3 players—and they definitely weren't from Rio or Apple. While many of us in the US first bought the Diamond Multimedia Rio PMP300, a flash player with a massive 32MB storage capacity (honestly, it felt constricting even at the time), it wasn't the first in the world. Instead that honor goes to the Korean company Eiger Labs, whose simultaneously released MPMan F10 and F20 [pictured] where the first commerical portables to play back MP3s.
The Koreans also had the first hard disk-based product, the Hango/Remote Solutions Personal Jukebox PJB-100, although the 6GB player was originally a Compaq design. That was in 1998—three years before Apple released the iPod.