In the middle 90s, the people behind the new MP3 technology were discouraged. They couldn’t get anyone to take their new technology serious and their funders were on the verge of pulling the pin on the whole thing. But then along came the NHL and saved everything. A little background, though. For a variety of complex technical reasons involving acoustics, psychoacoustics and frequency analysis, getting a compressed audio file to sound right was very difficult in certain situations. Music might sound okay, but real-world sounds could be very, very finicky. One such set of sounds were what we hear at a hockey game: crowd noise, skates tearing up the ice, the boom of the puck off the boards. The MP3 development team discovered the challenges of compressing the sound of hockey very early on and spent many thousands of hours trying to remove all the encoding errors that were endemic to this kind of audio. They weren’t targeting hockey, but this work ended up saving the format from certain death. The third part of the story next time.