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Audio in the New Millennium - Redux

In 2000, I was invited to present the Heyser lecture, entitled “Audio in the New Millennium” [1]. As it was the turn of the Millennium, I chose to review the progress of digital audio over the preceding 20 years of my own career, then extrapolate forward to 2020. In the process of doing so, one of the trends identified in my lecture stood out as being of fundamental importance. This was that innovations in all the aspects of modern computer technology – computation, networking, disc storage – had come to be driven almost entirely by the entertainment industry – digital audio, digital video, and computer games. The situation of 1980 when audio and video fed on the scraps of technology developed for military and industrial uses has now been reversed: military, industrial, and scientific computing is now driven entirely by the needs for entertainment technology. This paper will review the prognostications of the 2000 lecture and take stock of the progress, noting specifically which predictions hit the mark (a few of them) and which did not (most of them). More strikingly, a number of trends and developments in entertainment that were entirely unanticipated in 2000 have moved to center stage as drivers of technology.

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