MP3 hits tenth Anniversary

Even though it doesn't quite have the same ring as Sony's Walkman turning 25, or the same social cachet as shelves bursting with CDs, 10 years ago today The Fraunhoefer Institute invented the MPEG 1 Layer 3 file format and the file suffix, MP3, became a much more manageable acronym for the standard's long and almost unpronounceable full name (IS 11172-3 MPEG Audio Layer 3 for those that care).

It had been a revolutionary idea on paper since 1992 and judged to be almost impossible, but it was proved and ratified in the mid 1990s- the rest is history, and gave birth to a new generation of players and piracy until finally, record companies have begun to sell songs to customers using the format legitimately as often as they sue them for stealing it. Those in there at the start with the right model, like iTunes and backbone provider OD2, haven't looked back even if MP3 wasn't the format they preferred to sell.

Other formats have arrived in its wake promising better music quality like Microsoft's WMA which does seem to retain more bass and has spread via the size and force of its parent company but to be honest the compressed format is merely a slave to the original's quality and none so far have been able to obtain MP3's universal worldwide domination, pushed as it was by a standards group for others to exploit rather than one monopoly company. Besides, the full-fat WAV format is also accommodated by ever-increasing hard disk sizes and has hardly died the death some people might have predicted.

Once again, it's another reason why it's good to pioneer in the computer industry. Couple this dominant format with the currently dominant player, Apple's iPod, and only time will tell whether we can get another ten years out of MP3 before it becomes everyday.