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Behind the Music: The History of MP3

MP3 is short for Moving Picture Experts Group, Audio Layer III, and is a compression format that shrinks audio files with only a small sacrifice in sound quality. MP3 files can be compressed at different rates, but the more they are scrunched, the worse the sound quality. A standard MP3 compression is at a 10:1 ratio, and yields a file that is about 4 MB for a three-minute track.

It all started in the mid-1980s, at the Fraunhofer Institut http://www.iis.fhg.de/amm/index.html in Erlangen, Germany, which began work on a high quality, low bit-rate audio coding with the help of Dieter Seitzer, a professor at the University of Erlangen. In 1989, Fraunhofer was granted a patent for MP3 in Germany and a few years later it was submitted to the International Standards Organization (ISO), and integrated into the MPEG-1 specification.

Frauenhofer also developed the first MP3 player in the early 1990s, but it turned out to be a pretty underwhelming application. In 1997, a developer at Advanced Multimedia Products named Tomislav Uzelac http://www.playmediasystems.com/tomislav.htm created the AMP MP3 Playback Engine, which is regarded as the first prime-time MP3 player. Shortly after the AMP engine hit the Net, a couple of university students, Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev (who more recently created MacAMP), took the Amp engine, added a Windows interface and dubbed it "Winamp." In 1998, when Winamp was offered up as a free music player, the MP3 craze began: Music fiends all over the world started MP3 hubs, offering copyrighted music for free.

- "MP3 Overview," Christopher Jones, Wired.com, http://webmonkey.wired.com/webmonkey/templates/print_template.htmlt?meta=/webmonkey/00/31/index3a_meta.html

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This article was initially posted here http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/daily_news_feeds_rss/daily_feeds_questionable_interest.htm but more appropriate to post it on this Web page.

Post Date: November 1, 2004 at 8:15 AM CST; 1415 GMT

Re-Post Date: January 11, 2005 at 7:15 AM CST; 1315 GMT