Streaming media has grown from a niche market to one of the most popular ways to consume media.
Through apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, NowTV and more – we have access to thousands of films and TV series ready to watch at the touch of a button.
We can use streaming services through our TVs, and even our computers, tablets and mobile phones to take our viewing experience on the go.
But where did it all begin? In the early 1920s, George O. Squier was granted patents for a system for the transmission and distribution of signals over electrical lines, which was the basis for Muzak, a technology streaming continuous music to commercial customers without the use of radio.
But attempts to display media on computers date back to the earliest days of computing in the mid-20th century. Despite this, little progress to develop streaming was made for several decades, primarily due to the high cost and limited capabilities of computer hardware.
From the late 1980s through the 1990s however, consumer-grade personal computers became powerful enough to display various media and streaming content was born.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, users had increased access to computer networks, especially the Internet.
In 1991 the first commercial Ethernet Switch was introduced, followed by the World Wide Web, which could only support streaming audio years later.
The first commercial streaming product appeared in late 1992 and was named StarWorks, followed by Microsoft-developed media player ActiveMovie in 1995.
During the early 2000s, users had access to increased network bandwidth that increased the possibilities of streaming. It facilitated streaming audio and video content in both homes and workplaces as the internet became increasingly commercialised.
The band Severe Tire Damage was the first group to perform live on the Internet on June 24, 1993. the band was playing a gig at Xerox PARC that could be seen across the world.
RealNetworks was also a pioneer in the streaming media markets, when it broadcast a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners over the Internet in 1995.
Netflix was founded in 1997, with its initial business model including DVD sales and rental by mail.
Around 2002, the interest in a single, unified, streaming format and the widespread adoption of Adobe Flash prompted the development of a video streaming format through Flash, which was the format used in Flash-based players on many popular video hosting sites, such as YouTube.
Netflix expanded its business in 2007 with the introduction of streaming media while retaining the DVD and Blu-ray rental service. The company expanded internationally in 2010 with streaming available in Canada, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean. Netflix entered the content-production industry in 2012, debuting its first series Lilyhammer.
The Recording Industry Association of America revealed through its 2015 earnings report that streaming services were responsible for 34.3 per cent of the year’s total music industry’s revenue, growing 29 percent from the previous year and becoming the largest source of income.
In March 2015, Twitter launched a live streaming app called Periscope that fed into the trend of streaming occurrences as they happened. Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Snapchat and more have followed that not only allow us to stream what we want to watch, but also to easily produce streams for others to follow.
Now, streaming is all around us. From elevator music through to TV shows and our favourite albums – we can stream whatever content we live, wherever in the world we are.