So what do you do after inventing one of the more popular technologies of the past decade - the MP3 player?
Well, if you're Nathan Schulhof and you already have more than 35 years as a successful serial entrepreneur to your credit, chances are you do what most in your position do - consult, invest, and look for the next big thing.
As shown by the four U.S. Patents bearing his name 5,557,541 5,572,442 5,841,979 and 5,914,941), Nathan M. Schulhof (52) was the visionary behind the devices known today by most people as MP3 players.
Nathan Schulhof, the inventor of the MP3 player, holding the Listen Up player, the first portable, digital audio device.
As envisioned by Schulhof in the early 1990s when he founded Information Highway Media Corp. (later renamed Audio Highway and then audiohighway.com), such portable devices would allow the selection, retrieval, storage and playback of audio content delivered to the device via the Internet or another broadband delivery system. These handheld systems would also include a high-capacity storage medium, basic control unit, mobile control unit, a faster-than-real-time recording mechanism, and a playback system designed to detect playback resolution.
Schulhof completed the first prototype of his invention in 1994 that was commercialized by Schulhof's team in 1996 as the Listen Up Player. The Listen Up device won an Innovations award from the Consumer Electronics Show in January 1997 and was later selected to receive the People's Choice award from the Upside Magazine/David Coursey Internet Showcase conference in 1998.
Although Audio Highway/audiohighway.com eventually decided to focus its efforts on the acquisition and delivery of audio and video content via the Internet to portable devices and personal computers, Schulhof's invention has continued on to become a near-ubiquitous device, particularly among teenagers and young adults in their twenties and thirties.
For more than 35 years, Schulhof has been involved in a wide variety of entrepreneurial ventures, ranging various entrepreneurial adventures as a young man growing up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to starting an air charter service in Florida in the 1970s.
While attending two years at Lincoln University Law School in San Francisco, Schulhof worked as an agent for New York Life before deciding that neither law or insurance were ideal matches for him.
Schulhof entered the technology world in the late 1970s when he began working on a software idea that eventually bore fruit as Silicon Valley Systems, the developer of Word Handler, the first and best-selling high-resolution graphics word processor for the Apple II computer. SVS was also the first technology firm to implement a telemarketing effort targeting the retail channel.
Prior to co-founding audiohighway.com, Schulhof formed TestDrive Corporation, a pioneer in the distribution of encrypted computer software on CD-ROM and the first company to distribute a CD-ROM inside a magazine. TestDrive was later sold to R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co.
Through the years, Schulhof has been extensively quoted and featured in technology and consumer media, including pieces in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Businessweek, Inc., Success, among others. He has spoken extensively at industry events (including COMDEX, CES, Fall Internet World and Apple Computer's Independent Developer Conference, among others), and has raised tens of millions of dollars in private and public equity.
He also participated in the DotCom craze of the late 1990s, leading the transformation of Information Highway Media Corporation into audiohighway.com, one of the leading destination web sites for downloading and streaming media in the world. Schulhof also helped take audiohighway.com public in 1998 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
When not consulting with clients, Nathan divides his time between Silicon Valley, and Santa Barbara, pilots