End of an era: MP3 format officially dead

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iPod
The iPod played a big role in popularizing the MP3.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The MP3, the iconic music compressions format partly popularized by the iPod, has been declared dead by its creators.

Licensing of the technology has been the responsibility of German company the Fraunhofer Institute. In a statement, the institute revealed that it is terminating licensing patents and software related to MP3. It’s the end of an era!

MP3 was invented back in the 1980s, long before the majority of people were able to connect to the internet. But with the arrival of the internet, it became the de-facto music format. Anyone over the age of 25 will probably remember the grindingly slow days of dial-up, in which downloading a song could consume the best part of an hour.

The format has since given over to Advanced Audio Codec family (AAC). However, it’s still an historic occasion to wave goodbye to probably the most famous file format in history, particularly if you were to poll the general public.

In a statement, the Fraunhofer Institute wrote that:

“We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the defacto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades.

The development of mp3 started in the late 80s at Fraunhofer IIS, based on previous development results at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.”

What was the first MP3 you ever downloaded? Leave your comments below.