Technology Before iTunes, iPods and mp3s, hell, even before the proper Napster ...



That's from From BBC Music Magazine in April 1995.

This reminds me of the fanciful drawings in Da Vinci's sketch book. Machines will fly -- we just don't have the materials yet. People will download music on mass and pay for it. It's just that it would take a couple of hours to download a whole album. That's not a workable business model. In my experience the majority of people with domestic access in those days (surely the main audience) were still on dial-up, and 32 Kbps at that.

A quick search finds this Herald Tribune piece from 1996: "Will Internet Replace Record Shops?" and even more impressively, from Multimedia Success Stories (?) Case Study Project: Cerberus Digital Juke Box were we see (amongst a range of amusing in hindsight details) that Cerberus were already concerned about piracy and had cooked up some DRM:
"Each track costs 60 pence and is digitally compressed. The Web page gives the duration of the track and its size in kbytes – a six-minute track takes around two minutes to download. To prevent piracy , each individual transaction is encoded uniquely, using a proprietary disposable key technology (DKT), so that any fraud is limited to a single transaction."

"The user then downloads the Cerberus Player (a piece of encrypted software containing the track) from the company's Web site to his hard disk. Finally he can play the track back as many times as he wants, using his PC's sound system."
Basically it's a very similar model to that developed by Apple for iTunes. About the only item missing is that they don't conceive of the music being played digitally on some kind of portable audio player. But the kicker for me is that the artists involved submit their work on cassette.

Cerberus's domain name is now a link farm. Clearly these visionaries deserve better.

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