At its peak, napster, the largest, and now extinct file sharing program had over 80 million registered users. The revolutionary software allowed people to use the Internet to swap music. Within months of its release napster was the Internet's most downloaded application.
Napster was started by Shawn fanning in 1998 in his dorm at Northeastern University in Boston. The 19 year old Fanning wanted to solve a simple problem of being able to download music without having to look through hundreds of web pages to find it. So Fanning wrote a simple program that would search and index music files. This allowed music fans to easily look through hundreds of web sites worth of music in one place.
The simple download was an instantaneous hit, with word of the application being rapidly spread by mouth and later news publicity. Friends told friends who then told more friends, the more people who signed on, the more music available.
John Fanning, ShawnÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs uncle, raised money and moved the project to the San Francisco Bay Area, the capital of the digital revolution.
As Napster emerged into the Internet consciousness, its presence was also felt by record labels everywhere. Meanwhile, the number of files being traded on this program would reach the billions.
The RIAA took legal action against Napster in December 1999. This lawsuit took months to complete but the RIAA eventually go the ruling it was looking for, copyright infringement, shutting down Napster for good.
The music sharing world retaliated back with a surge of newer, faster, and better file sharing programs, which could now also allow a user to download movies, pictures, and programs, along with music. The most successful alternative was Kazaa, which is currently in legal trouble also. Now, anyone with a computer and some programming skills could create their own version of Napster.
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