Apple has finally admitted that a British man who left school at 15 is the inventor behind the iPod.
Kane Kramer, 52, came up with the technology that drives the digital music player nearly 30 years ago but has still not seen a penny from his invention.
And the father of three had to sell his home last year and move his family to rented accommodation after closing his struggling furniture business.
Now documents filed by Apple in a court case show the US firm acknowledges him as the father of the iPod.
The computer giant even flew Mr Kramer to its Californian headquarters to give evidence in its defence during a legal wrangle with another firm, Burst.com, which claimed it held patents to technology in the iPod and deserved a cut of Apple’s £89billion profits.
Two years ago, Mr Kramer told this newspaper how he had invented and built the device in 1979 – when he was just 23.
His invention, called the IXI, stored only 3.5 minutes of music on to a chip – but Mr Kramer rightly believed its capacity would improve.
His sketches at the time showed a credit-card-sized player with a rectangular screen and a central menu button to scroll through a selection of music tracks – very similar to the iPod.
He took out a worldwide patent and set up a company to develop the idea.
But in 1988, after a boardroom split, he was unable to raise the £60,000 needed to renew patents across 120 countries and the technology became public property.
Apple used Mr Kramer’s patents and drawings to defend itself in the legal wrangle with Burst last September and he gave evidence under fire from Burst’s lawyers.
Mr Kramer, of Hitchin, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I was up a ladder painting when I got the call from a lady with an American accent from Apple saying she was the head of legal affairs and that they wanted to acknowledge the work that I had done.
‘I must admit that at first I thought it was a wind-up by friends. But we spoke for some time, with me still up this ladder slightly bewildered by it all, and she said Apple would like me to come to California to talk to them.
'Then I had to make a deposition in front of a court stenographer and videographer at a lawyers’ office. The questioning by the Burst legal counsel there was tough, ten hours of it. But I was happy to do it.’
The dispute between Apple and Burst.com has since been settled confidentially out of court.
Mr Kramer said: ‘To be honest, I was just so pleased that finally something that I had done which has been a huge success and changed the music industry was being acknowledged. I was really quite emotional about it all.’
He is now negotiating with Apple to gain some compensation from the copyright that he owns on the drawings.
But so far he has received only a consultancy fee for providing his expertise in the legal case.
A staggering 163million iPods have been sold since the device was launched by Apple in 2001.
Every minute, another 100 are snapped up worldwide, earning Apple an estimated £5.5billion last Christmas alone.
But Mr Kramer, in contrast, last year had to close his struggling furniture design business and move with his wife Lorraine and children, Jodi, nine, Luis, 14, and Lauren, 16, into rented accommodation.
‘I can’t even bring myself to buy an iPod for myself,’ he said. ‘Apple did give me one but it broke down after eight months.’
Mr Kramer, who organises the annual British Invention Show, is now working on a patented invention he claims will be bigger than the iPod.
Called Monicall, it will allow people to have phone calls recorded and emailed to the various parties as an audio file.
He said: ‘It will speed up business deals and provide a low-cost third-party witness to conversations and agreements.
‘A deal will be done on the phone and that is it – an audio file gets emailed over within 30 seconds.’