This is the story of “Lounge11.au,” an audio file that is a long-forgotten example of one of the first internet viruses. Remember when this was what we meant by “viral”?
The music in this video is a loop of a track called “lounge11.au”
Lounge11.au used to play in a continuous loop on the Hormell Food’s company’s spam.com website at least as early as March of 2000.
(CAUTION: clicking this link may automatically download a copy of lounge11.au to your computer’s downloads folder. If you click back or forward in the Archive.org timeline interface it will download multiple copies. I inadvertently downloaded the file 11 times in researching this article, hence the date of its first appearance on the internet is approximate).
Apparently, somebody at Hormell figured out they could embed an audio file in a website and have it autoplay when the page loaded. This was a big deal because bandwidth speeds and sound cards were just getting fast enough to start processing streaming audio. People were getting second phone lines so they could have one for the internet and one for the phone. This was prior to cell phones. So using dial-up was becoming a problem for telecommunications.
Meanwhile, sound cards were getting better and CD ROMs meant computers could be just as good of an entertainment system as a stand-alone unit. So the fact that you could play music through the internet was very exciting.
With all due respect to Monty Python
I would go so far as to say that part of the reason we call spam messages ‘spam’ has something to do with how, for a little while, the entire population of a pre 9/11 internet had this song stuck in their head for about a week. People kept sharing it. Spam.com’s traffic exploded. No one ever bothered to look at the file or where it came from. That didn’t matter. What the song was wasn’t the point, but it was mellow and infectious.
This song is an early example of something ‘going viral’. Yet, the internet has no history of where it came from or who made it. If you google the filename the only thing that comes up is a 2007 access statistics report for the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. For whatever reason, it was accessed 4 times between June 2006 and March 2007 in the root folder of the page for the Center for Vulcanology.