I recently found the music player that got me through school from 1997 until I left in 2005. The Sony MZ-E25 MiniDisc player.
Bought at it's prime in the late 90's, it is now going for as cheap as £20 on eBay.
I remember first getting the player in 1997 as a christmas present and not even thinking of what potential effect it would have on the portable music market, it didn't even occur to me that it would spell the end of portable CD Players. I was just so excited that I could shuffle and change the songs via the 'LCD Remote Stick' that came as an attachment to the player, which itself could attach to your clothing, pocket, etc.
Until the eventual release of mp3 players and the industry changing iPod, in 2001, Minidiscs were seen as the future of digital data, be it music, video or documents such as photos, word files, etc, and as much as I love my iPod Touch and mp3's, I do miss the MiniDisc, the sound quality was top notch, and the actual players felt like a deluxe, quality product.
The idea for it the discs for data storage seemed so 'underground' and 'cyberpunk', brought on I'm sure by Neo in The Matrix;
When mp3 first started gaining popularity on the internet in the mid-nineties, a program called 'Winamp' was needed to play the files (hands up who still uses that..), the format became so popular that eventually it would make it's way onto CD-R's, MD-R's and eventually have it's own player. But, at the point when MiniDisc was at it's prime, mp3 was considered a cheap, crappy quality sound file, that noone thought would ever amount to anything more than being used on webpages as backing music, or for putting onto Powerpoint slides.
How beautiful hindsight is.
'There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in the home'