History of MP3 – The Past and the Now

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“It all started in the early 1970s at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg  (Germany), with a team of like-minded students led by a doctoral student Karlheinz Brandenburg..”


Sounds of all kinds surround a person from the moment he is born. Wouldn’t you agree that without them, our lives would lose a lot of meaning. Just imagine if all of a sudden the world went blank in silence, and you’d no longer hear the birds singing, the murmuring of the oceans, a child’s laughter, or simply the voice of your mother and other people. What a terrible world that would be. We can’t imagine our existence without sound in all of its forms, especially in music.history-of-mp3


As a quick reminder, just think of how much time you spend in front of your monitor every day, how often do you listen to music? Almost always, if not all the time. While we listen to music and work on our daily tasks on a computer, tablet or a smartphone, we barely think about what is behind it, what makes it all work on electronic devices?


Behind all that is the world renowned format – the MP3. It is the key of today’s digital world, the file that stores sound. This format will be the hero of today’s story.


In the language of professionals, MP3 is the codec of the third level (MPEG-1 Layer 3), designed to encode and store sounds with minor losses for human perception. The compression algorithm used in the MP3 format can significantly reduce the size of audio data (according to some estimates, up to 12 times), when compared with the file Audio CD. At the same playback quality, the MP3 does not different from the original. At least, majority of musicians and avid listeners believe so.



It all started in the early 1970s at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg  (Germany), with a team of like-minded students led by a doctoral student Karlheinz Brandenburg.


Many decades passed since this incredible invention, and we are still using MP3 on a daily basis. Throughout those years, different companies and people have developed software and applications that allow us to encode, decode, and convert from, and to this audio format. An example of such could be the “Freemake Audio Converter”, a company that started in 2010, with collaboration of developers from Russia and the U.S. In 2016 the company reached a user base of over 63 million people that primarily use the software to convert video files into MP3.


When CD discs came out in 1982, the interest in resolving the problem of compressing digital audio has cooled down. In all honesty, why would we care about compressing digital audio when we have a CD that lets us store and playback enough music and at a high level of quality. Who cares if it’s not compressed.

People didn’t bother then. However, a few years passed and the boom of digital technologies has revived the need of compression of digital audio. Thanks to that, we are able to listen to music and audio files on a daily basis through our computers, tablets, phones and other electronic devices.