I'm writing an article about FOSS and Linux music players. What was the very first music player application for Linux? Was there ever a time when the players didn't support proprietary formats like MP3s?
The first application that I ever came across that could play .wav or .mp3 files was sox. It was available on Solaris 2.5.1 when I first found out about it. I believe it predates that as well.
I was using
The wikipedia page has it pegged at 1991. Incidentally the app is named SoX, for Sound Exchange.
excerpt from history section of wikipeidia page
I should clarify on Solaris I was using
Another application that I remember using was called XMMS, circa 1997. This was very ahead of it's time. Was light weight, skinnable, and included plugins.
MP3 Copyright Issues
For most people using Linux with MP3 support it was something that you really wanted to do. You'd typically have to jump through several hoops to get it working.
It was only in the last few years that you could legally obtain a license for playback from Fluendo.
As @derobert indicated in a comment, we believe the patents might be expired at this time. Seems to may be the case looking at the wikipedia page for the MP3 format. But I'm no lawyer.
excerpt from MP3 wikipedia page
There probably was no "first for Linux", the Linux kernel has been supplemented with userland programs collected from all over the place from the very start, the overwhelming majority of it originally developed for some propietary Unix system or one of the BSDs, and even in some case ported over from other operating systems. Much of this happened in parallel by separate groups working on (proto) distributions. I'm certain this happened (almost) simultaneously in different ways once some sort of audio driver came to be.