In the beginning...
First you may wonder why there are so many different players (hardware differences are mainly present for the used flash types, keys, display and case) out there in the big world, but still every device (even the new MP4 players) could get accessed via s1fwx (See external links).
In the beginning, there was a small (not really) integrated circuit design company called Actions, which thought they could do a better (not really, but cheaper) multimedia SoC for mp3 player solutions than Sigmatel. They produced several multimedia SoCs until they finally developed the ATJ2085, the core of the most s1mp3 players.
Actions started writing a basic example, showing up all the nice functions of their new device. They invented a test board and wrote a bootloader, sample drivers for hardware I/O, control of the integrated DSP (digital signal processor) and an API called ACTOS (ACTion Operating System). But much more important, they developed a cheap comunication interface between PC and S1MP3 USB client, called ADFU (possibly it stands for Action Device Firmware Uploader).
Such stuff is very hard to write, at least for a new customer which just thinks everybody needs another cheap mp3 player. And there were many customers out there, small and huge companies. They saw Action's example and they did a simple copy of the hardware. But to confuse the whole world, they had some perfect idea: they exchanged displays, flipped keys, or used cheaper flash chips. To make the cat fat, they just replaced the according drivers (quick hacked code) but still used the same comunication model. Some intelligent software engineer would have changed at least the vendor and device id (identfication) numbers, but they didn't (god knows why?).
Now we have the result, thousands of different players, but we couldn't determine any difference, whether from the case, the OS, or the extracted firmware. The only chance is to open up the player and check the board and board number, but there is no guaranty there, because some developers copied that number too. The only advantage we have is s1fwx works for all these players, without any modification, since it works at a higher level of communication with the device. Also all the players use the same resource mangement (for text or graphic objects/resources) which makes s1res (See external links) work for any device too (even the new MP4 players). But we have to live with the bad side effects of this breakdown: updating the firmware gets to some critical process.
Of course there are better firmwares out there (with better menus, the possibility to turn off color switching, text reader application, or even support for OGG files) than you may actually have running, but there is really no way to test the compatibility between your device and such a file. In the most cases this files are no updates, they are just new versions from sub-vendors (not Actions) which changed some few things inside ACTOS. Some added new menu options and AP's (applications, like the text reader), some added support for new codecs for the DSP (not many could do that). But even if they changed the version number to some funny digits (mostly higher), this give us no clear idea about the real changes and the related target hardware.
Since Actions was not stupid, they supported a recovery system together with their OS. This system is a really funny thing, enough stuff for a whole new topic.
The start of the S1mp3.org iniciative
Wladston was a high-school student, when he had the idea of buying an interesting, cheap, and leet-looking media player from the local online auctions site. The device arrived and worked well, although it had a terrible "Chinglish" manual. The "firmware upgrade" function caught his attention, and he decided to look up the internet for "updated" firmwares. There was nearly no content about the s1mp3s. At the same time, Wladston looked up the Rockbox project (See external links), a very interesting initiative to write open source firmware to the Rockbox set of players.
The S1mp3.atspace era
With intents to see the same happening to his hardware, Wladston set up a web site (single page html file hosted in a free service atspace), and a phpbb forum (also hosted in a free forum server).
The time passed, and these players became pretty popular all arround the world. The discussion on the forums was growing, and the web site was getting popular. The site had a huge amount of hits because of people to accidentally flashed a wrong firmware, and needed a good working one to make the player work. So we started to collect a firmware database, and instructions on how to fix broken players.
The s1mp3.secret era
After a while, we were offered free hosting at PedroM's secret.com.br server. It was php-enabled, so we could finally move our forum from the free hosting site. Wladston began learning php and he wrote a rudimentary system in php to add firmwares to the database automatically (wich still powers the main site, unhopefully!). Wire developed the famous s1fwx tool, that enabled more and more firmware backup/dumps, and that made the firmware list REALLY grow in extension.
The S1mp3.org era
We were, after a while, contacted by a Britten B., that registed the s1mp3.org domain free for us, and gave us a nearly dedicated server for the project. At that time, Google Ads was being used on the pages, and the s1mp3.org logo was made, along with the current web-design for the main website.
The problem was, this guy never checked his email. We needed to update things on the web server, but we couldn't. It was when we decided to use the money from the ads to move to our own server, a dedicated server!
After a period of decadence and trouble for administrating the server we decided to move again to Dreamhost, where the site is currently hosted.
The recent era
Unhopefully. the project did not flourish in development terms. So, the money that is collected with the Google ads is being used to hire experienced developers friendly to the project to complete key parts of the project.
The history is being writtten! You can be a part of the s1mp3.org history! Help writing it!