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Background

Originally, the Internet was conceived of as a way for people to share research data. Not just any people, but research types, government agencies and universities. These researchers, being clever people, decided to try to share much more than just text. It wasn't long before people devised methods for sharing other types of digital information, such as graphics, photos, and audio files. As the Internet became a “common man's” tool and access was shared with the masses, these methods of sharing images had some drawbacks. The fundamental problem was in the size of the files. The images people wanted to share were many times larger than text files. These large files took a long time to upload and download. In some cases, the files were so large that sharing them on the Internet was impractical.

Even if the file size wasn't a problem because people were willing to wait, the situation was far from optimal. It didn't make sense to download a complete audio file before you could listen to it. For example, if you wanted to listen to the first five minutes of an hour-long lecture, you had to download the entire hour before listening to any of it. It became clear that a new method of distributing media files was necessary.


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