by Kristin Bingham on Mon, Jun 1, 2009
The development of MP3 technologies illustrates the unexpected benefits of basic research. In 1965, a hand-sized storage and playback device that would hold 15,000 recorded songs was the stuff of science fiction. Even simple hand-held calculators were rare and expensive at that time. Research funded by the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology contributed to the breakthrough technologies of magnetic storage drives, lithium-ion batteries, and the liquid crystal display, which came together in the development of MP3 devices. The device itself is innovative, but it built upon a broad platform of component technologies, each derived from fundamental studies in physical science, mathematics, and engineering.