The History of Music on Internet
- A Case Study
Digital Music Initiative
Future of Music on the Internet
History of Music on the Internet
The History of Internet Hi Fi
The introduction of electricity into music initiated the birth and growth
of recorded music, which is essentially what digital music, is. The introduction
of music and computers began in the 1950's. RCA (Radio Corporation of
America) introduced the first synthesizer. This creation was built to study
the nature of sound. The combining of electronic instruments and microprocessors
meant that a huge amount of data could be utilized within one instrument.
This idea led to the creation of MIDI. Developed in 1981 by Sequential
Circuits, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was presented as
a combined language/transmission protocol which not only allowed for sending
and receiving information, but also determining the structure of that information.
The development of MIDI started huge advancements and creations of other
forms of digital music. Today, electronic music has taken over, and the
classical instruments of the past are rapidly becoming invisible.
1991:Sony MD, or minidisc, is introduced; like a 3 1/2-inch computer
floppy disk, it comes packaged in its own protective caddy.
Moving Picture Experts Group-1 Audio Layer 3, also known as MP3,
is developed by the German research firm Fraunhofer Institute.
The technology allows people to download digital-quality music from
the Internet, bypassing usual music outlets.
1995:Progressive Networks releases Real Audio Player, which
enables "computer users navigating the Internet using the graphical
environment known as World Wide Web to choose audio clips from a menu
and begin listening to them immediately," according to a NY Times
1997:RealNetworks, formerly Progressive Networks, announces the
RealPlayer 4.0 will be integrated with Microsoft's Internet
takes the first portable MP3 player, the RIO PMP 3000, to market
The History of Internet Hi Fi
MP3, an obscure compression format that has the music
industry shaking in its gold-studded boots, is surely one of the
Web's most unlikely heroes.
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 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 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.
Before long, other programmers jumped in to create a whole
toolset for MP3 junkies. New encoders, rippers, and players
were sprouting up every week, and the movement was growing
strong. Search engines made it even easier to find the specific
MP3 files people wanted, and portable players like the Rio let
them take MP3 tracks on the road.
And then came Napster.
Napster is the killer app that will be undoubtedly remembered
more than any other MP3-related software. When Napster hit
the Internet in 1999, it allowed anyone with a connection to
find and download just about any type of popular music they
wanted, in minutes. By connecting users to other users' hard
drives, Napster created a virtual community of music junkies
that's still growing at an astonishing pace.
However, the Recording Industry Association of America is
currently trying to shut Napster down. The RIAA also kept up
the pressure on the political front: Digital music heavyweights
recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to testify before a
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on downloading and file
trading. Their lament: All this free downloading is screwing us
out of our deserved fees and royalties. The RIAA has sued
Napster, charging it with copyright law violations, and on July
26 won a decision in U.S. District Court that, in effect, ordered
Napster shut down. However, the very next day, a Court of
Appeals halted the order and ruled that Napster can stay in
business until the completion of its trial.
Even if Napster is eventually forced to shut down, MP3 has
many other ways to survive and thrive
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