Technology has drastically changed the world since its inception. Significant advancements have been witnessed in various industries such as engineering, transport and communication, health, and education, all because of the influence of technology. Technological inventions have been products of brave men and women from different countries. Although the United States boasts of many inventions in the field of technology, many other inventions are owed to other countries but have nevertheless transformed the country. One notable invention is the MP3 technology that was invented in Germany. The invention of MP3 technology completely changed the music industry.
Cultural and Social Factors behind the Invention
The MP3 technology was the brainchild of Karlheinz Brandenburg, under a company named Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft. Brandenburg began the research in 1977 and took 13 years to successfully develop the technology. The primary goal for the invention was to compress audio files at a 12:1 compression ratio without losing their quality (Browning, 2017). The invention coincided with a German music industry that was evolving at an unprecedented rate.
Music acted as a unifying factor for a Germany that was divided into two by the Berlin Wall. Music helped citizens of East and West Germany resist the bondage that the Berlin Wall imposed on them. Through music, the people had a shared sense of anger, fear, and hope. Even after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, music continued to be an enabler of social cohesion within Germany. For instance, young people from East and West Germany met at the venue of the demolished Berlin Wall to party to techno music (Peter, 2019). Techno music was especially popular in the period around the demolition of the wall. It is worth noting that it is during the same year of the Berlin Wall demolishing that the MP3 technology came out. Therefore, the invention was a fulfillment of young people’s thirst for portable music. Making music easier to listen to would increase people’s social experience.
Evolution of MP3 and its Influence on the US’s Culture
After the invention of MP3 technology, Brandenberg’s attempts to market the technology were futile. However, Brandenberg’s journey around America and Europe bore fruits as the technology was eventually accepted. Brandenberg made further attempts to develop an MP3 player but failed. The first commercial mp3 player was developed in 1997 by Saehan Information Systems, a South Korean Company. The player made it possible for users to store between 6 and 12 songs on a 32 MB and 64 MB capacity. Later in 1997, Tomislav Uzelac, an employee of Advanced Multimedia Products Company, released the AMP MP3 Playback Engine into the US market. The entry of the MP3 technology into the US market triggered many US companies to improve on the technology and release new products (Adner, 2012). The introduction of the iPod by Apple Inc. was a success because the player offered improved features compared to other devices.
The MP3 completely changed how people consumed music in the United States. With new generation trends such as teen pop, hip hop, and dance people emerging in the 1970s and 1980s, the demand for music had risen tremendously. A music industry that was afraid of piracy was compelled to go digital after a significant change in consumers’ buying habits. Music became more accessible because users could easily share files. The least known record labels had an opportunity to use MP3 technology to market artists’ songs through the internet. MP3 technology made it possible for Americans to carry hundreds of songs in their pockets. Today’s there is less focus on song albums and more focus on singles which are easily accessible at a mere touch of a button.
The invention of the MP3 technology was a game-changer in the music industry. During an era when access to music was an expensive undertaking, MP3 technology made it possible to listen to music at their convenience. Although the invention was initially opposed by the music industry for fears of piracy, it has eventually changed the music industry and how people consume their music.