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> From ISO committee to global standard

From ISO committee to global standard

Through the early 90s MPEG-1 Layer-3 was mainly used in professional applications. In these pre-Web days, Thomson was the only major industrial player to share Karlheinz Brandenburg's vision, and its engineers worked alongside the Fraunhofer team to develop and improve mp3 encoding and decoding applications. Their combined research and development resulted in eighteen patents covering the mp3 standard, with Thomson multimedia issuing the licenses under these patents from 1993 onward.

In 1997 a minor misdemeanor occurred which was to have massive consequences for mp3. Hackers rewrote the user interface of a commercially available Windows based mp3 encoder application and released the encoder for free download on the Internet. Within days college students were downloading their favorite music, trading files around on the Web, and vying to accumulate the biggest collection of mp3 tracks.

The rest is history. As free decoders sprung up across the Internet, broadcasters started using mp3 to stream their broadcasts, and Thomson and Fraunhofer had the foresight and business sense to develop and adapt their licensing policy.

Now, five years later, millions of users around the world download several million mp3 files online every day. Every day mp3 files are played worldwide on 150 million PCs and ten million licensed mp3 players worldwide, including Thomson's tiny but powerful Lyra digital personal stereo.


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  • From ISO committee to global standard
  • How does mp3 work?
  • An innovative licensing policy
  • Further enhancement with mp3PRO

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