“I don’t like the title ‘The Father of MP3,’” says Karlheinz Brandenburg. But he kinda is. “Certainly I was involved all the time from basic research [to] getting it into the market.” Brandenburg was part of the group that gave the MP3 its name. The Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) lent its name to the process of digital encoding by which audio and video is compressed into a file small enough to be transferred easily. That process — MPEG Audio Layer III — and the resulting file — the MP3 — is ubiquitous today. But the development wasn’t simple, and its outcome wasn’t inevitable.
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