American computer programmer and entrepreneur Shawn Fanning released the Napster file sharing service for MP3 files from his headquarters in Hull, Massachusetts. After Napster's early explosive success Fanning moved the company to San Mateo, California. "The original company ran into legal difficulties over copyright infringement, ceased operations and was eventually acquired by Roxio. In its second incarnation Napster became an online music store until it merged with Rhapsody on 1 December 2011" (Wikipedia article on Napster, accessed 03-18-2012).
"It [Napster] was the first of the massively popular peer-to-peer file sharing systems, although it was not fully peer-to-peer since it used central servers to maintain lists of connected systems and the files they provided, while actual transactions were conducted directly between machines. Although there were already media which facilitated the sharing of files across the Internet, such as IRC, Hotline, and USENET, Napster specialized exclusively in music in the form of MP3 files and presented a friendly user-interface. The result was a system whose popularity generated an enormous selection of music to download."