The mp3 format was invented by the MPEG Group in 1991. The history of the mp3 format indicates several people worked on the project but the accredited inventors were Ernst Eberlein, Thomas Sporer, Karhl Heinz Brandenburg, Bern Grill and Bernd Kurten.
Mp3 was the offshoot of OCF and PXFM. Those who worked on the project were mainly focused on how people were able to hear music. Through the course of their work, the Fraunhofer Society (which became part of the MPEG group) started looking for ways for music to be compressed and yet maintain its high quality.
After working on it for several yeas, the standards were implemented in 1991. Further refinements would follow and it was integrated with MPEG 2 which came out in 1994.
Release to the Public
A study of the history of the mp3 format will reveal the Fraunhofer Society produced the encoder on July 7, 1994. A few months after its release, an mp3 player called Winplay 3 was released as well.
Unlike other music formats, Mp3 offered a lot of advantages. The first was its small size. Using the 128 bit compression, a 5 minute song only came in at about 5 MB. This was a huge improvement over the WAV formats whose size was ten times that.
In addition, the quality was very high, almost CD like. This became possible due to limitations in hearing. Mp3 removed the bits in the sound file that people wouldn’t be able to hear. By taking out these extraneous pieces, the size was reduced without sacrificing the sound quality.
Popularity and Widespread Use
Through the 1990s, the history of the mp3 format shows the tremendous impact it made on the Net. The release of Winamp (1997) allowed people to download and play mp3 files with ease.
Soon the Internet was flooded by various mp3 players. In 1999, Napster came out. This peer to peer file sharing network allowed users to share mp3 files anytime, anywhere.
The record companies responded by gong to court. They argued that what people were doing was in violation of copyright laws. The major record companies sued Napster and it was forced to close down. To prevent piracy, some record companies have resorted to encrypting music files.
The history of the mp3 format showed record companies that it was very popular with users. This would lead to the development of portable mp3 players. One of the most successful has been the iPod developed by Apple. Its success has spawned a number of other mp3 players. The newest players can store and play thousands of songs.
In spite of legal repercussions, mp3 file sharing has not been stopped. To this day there are still websites and software that allow sharing of copyrighted mp3 files.
Some artists have decided to sell their music online instead. Instead of relying on record companies, independent record artists have resorted to uploading their own songs online.
While the history of the mp3 format has become entangled in a web of legal issues, it is likely to remain a standard online music format. Its great sound quality and small size make it attractive to a lot of users.