The Audio Highway Listen Up is one very mysterious device that was created in 1996 and launched officially in 1997.

There isn’t much available information about it, but we do know that only 25 of these devices ever existed, so it can certainly not be considered to be a mass-produced product.


This was the first MP3 player produced. Made in the ’90s, the Audio Highway Listen Up was created by Nathan M. Schulhof, who was at the time an entrepreneur in the technology field. He is today known as one of the most important inventors in the United States.

Schulhof sold the patent to Sony later in 2003, when MP3 players began to grow in the market and became a more recognized part of the lives of the public.

The Listen Up was an audio device designed to be pocket-sized, so it was not heavy and was made specifically to be carried with you everywhere. The price was $299.

This was considered to be a very good price, as back in 1996, listening to music on the go was not as common or as simple as it is today. This portable MP3 device offered an impressive 60 minutes of playtime in a digital format.

Even though it did not receive a full release, this player is recognized as the first portable device player of digital music, way before the iPod. Today, the father of this music player, Nathan Schulhof, has said that he does not feel any bitterness or sadness about the vanishing and limited release of the Listen Up because it inspired the technology field to create something amazing and useful.

Thanks to the Listen Up, today we have easy access to portable music and listening to music on the go is the norm.

The process for adding songs to this MP3 device was very innovative. To do so, you just had to go onto the Listen Up website, download the music you wanted to listen to, and then download it to the player with AudioWiz.

Additionally, you could connect it to your computer directly with a pass-through parallel connector.

Image courtesy of TIME.

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