February 27, 2024


Arts Eternal

Sweet Music To Those Who Invented The MP3 Player

Digital players of all sorts were happily sharing the market. The advent of the MP3 player probably caused many of their sales figures to come to an abrupt standstill as this latest gadget boasted more capacity to fit into the palm of a hand or a pocket.

Its history began with the need for music compression by those in the digital audio industry. Courtesy of the Motion Pictures Expert Group, they came up with a format called the MPEG Audio Layer 3. Aptly concatenated to MP3, this format shot to worldwide fame as audio files became many times smaller than their original uncompressed versions. Acknowledged as the infamous five who invented the MP3 player, Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, Ernst Eberlein, Bernhard Grill, Bernd Kurten and Thomas Sporer all hailed from Germany. Accredited with the patent, they conducted their research work at the Fraunhofer Insitut. Although his name was not mentioned in the patent of inventors, Dieter Seitzer was duly acknowledged for his assistance on audio coding.

There were many obstacles in the initial stage. Failure upon failure to achieve a working digital player nearly caused work to stop. Finally in 1989, the group tasted sweet success. Initial market mainly resided within the research and music community as their need for file compression was greater than other groups. By the mid 90’s, the market extended to home users who happily exchanged their cassettes and audio CDs for the more portable player. Swapping of music files over the internet became extremely popular, sometimes to the blight of production houses and artistes in terms of copyrights and royalties.

Towards the end of the 90’s, a South Korean company became the first of many who invented the MP3 player for portable use. With immediate effect, music on the go became the next best thing to the ice cream cone. Although there were some hitches to the formula, it was not long before this device became a must-have gadget for most everyday man.