However, I had seen several comments in blogs about how Apple had tied the iTunes exclusively to the iPod in order to prevent people from buying any other kind of music player. That contrasted with my distinct memory of using iTunes to load my Rio back in ancient times. Of course, maybe things had changed.
But now, I had all the pieces. I grabbed a fresh AA battery and fired up one of them. I plugged in the cable and connected the Rio to my Mac. With no hesitation, the Rio mounted beside my iPhone in the sidebar and specialized buttons showed up at the bottom, with commands for making new folders on the Rio and upgrading its firmware.
I didn't even know the Rio had firmware upgrades, and since the company had long since gone out of business or changed hands, I was a little doubtful. But Google is your friend. "Rio 500 firmware" led me to a site that had the firmware for download. I did the obvious and upgraded both my players quickly and easily.
Then came the test, could I add and delete songs? My first try failed, but I realized I was trying to put an AAC encoded song onto a MP3 player and iTunes declined to permit that. Scrolling down my music list, I found a few zillion songs appropriately encoded and as easy as drag and drop, I changed the playlist on the Rio. Of course, at USB 1 speeds, it was amazingly slow, but I was dealing with ancient technology, so that wasn't unexpected.
But, it was as I remembered. iTunes treats the Rio as a first class citizen, within the limits of its tiny memory cards, and its capabilities. I wonder how many other 'alien' players iTunes supports?