Friday, April 18, 2008

One Decade of mp3s

Historical reference.

Ten years ago on Saturday, Matt Varas walked up to me with a small stack of floppy diskettes, and in usual Varas fashion, thrust them at me.

"What's this?"
"It's an mp3."
"What is that?"

He explained that it was just a way of making a sound file small. On four disks (remember this was 1998, before CD burners were common), he told me to use Microsoft Backup/Restore to combine them all.

Not really sure what that was, I went home, spent two hours downloading Winamp, and used that obscure program to combine the diskettes into my very first MP3: Bone Thugs N Harmony's "Tha Crossroads."

And that's what got me started. From there I got mIRC. Downloading files from mIRC was a pain. One had to

-Search for a file
-Find someone who had it
-Type a command just to enter their queue, and, usually
-Wait for them to become available, then
-Spend an hour downloading a song.

But I kept at it as the times kept changing. From mIRC to Napster. From Napster to Morpheus, and from Morpheus to KaZaa and onto KaZaa Lite, iTunes, eMusic, and the legally ambiguous And along the way I tried my share of programs: Abe's mp3 finder, gnutella, iMesh, limewire, BearShare, AIMster, grokster, audiogalaxy, Direct Connect, eDonkey, eMule, launchcast, winmx, shoutcast, soulseek, g2p, seeqpod, imeem...

My point? I kindled the nascent technology and watched it blossom into its current form, along for the entire ride. More than 6,100 songs later (that's 1.7 a day for 10 years), it's shaped me into the copyright-infringing music pirate RIAA-abiding fan of music that I am today. One full decade in the making.

And thank you, Bone Thugs N Harmony, for shining your light for others to follow!


Matthew Varas said...

Well son of a bitch. One of my interns Google'd me and found this post then sent it to me today. (I know...creepy. We've had the stalking talk)

I had to try to explain to him what IRC was and he never did figure it out.

Anyway, I read this and it really took me back. I honestly don't remember giving you a stack of floppies, but I do remember whoring off the mp3's onto everyone (Jenna actually first introduced me to them). So thanks for the nostalgia trip!


Jeremy said...

Wow. Is there anything the internets can't do?

For the record, I only remember this because I've noted the anniversary, in whatever blog I've been writing in at the time, for six years now. Each year I incrementally update the mp3 count and the list of software I use. Extremely nerdy in an historical/archival way, but hey, it's tradition.

And I still have one of the floppies.