IMS Founder Carl Malamud

How Did Internet Radio Start?

Audio broadcasting over the Internet is not a new concept. Newscientist reported that "since the mid-1980s, it has been possible to save digitized audio in files and send them over the Internet using standards devised by companies like Sun Microsystems and Microsoft."

Carl Malamud founded the first Internet-only radio station, The Internet Multicasting Service (IMS), in 1993. IMS broadcasted from offices at the National Press Club Building in Washington, D.C. A non-profit organization, IMS depended largely on charitable contributions for its budget.

IMS started broadcasting in 1994, offering several hours of weekly programs including a "Geek of the Week" interview feature, an audio feed from Monitor Radio and CBC News, speeches from the floor of Congress and performances from the Kennedy Center. IMS later expanded to include an online presence for groups ranging from the National Press Club to the Red Sage Restaurant and City Lights Books.

Like many other Internet offerings, IMS pushed the limits of public access to government information by offering patent documents and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission online and at no charge. By 1995, IMS expanded its offerings and broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Unfortunately, in 1996, IMS shut down. Visitors to the IMS web page will see broadcast concluded because "we finished our work and disbanded on April 1, 1996." Malamud said the organization had run out of money and he wanted to get back to working on the net. "Now there are craftsmen out there who know their tools much better than I do," Malamud said in an interview with John Schwartz. But IMS made its mark on the Internet. By the time it disbanded, Internet radio stations were numerous and many more would arrive.

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