This chapter discusses the history of Muzak. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Muzak as “the proprietary name of a system of piped music for factories, restaurants, supermarkets, etc.; also used loosely, with small initial, to designate recorded light background music generally.” Muzak “proper” owes its name to General George Owen Squier (1865–1934), a chief signal officer in the United States Army who, in 1922, founded Wired Inc., a company “employ[ing] electric power lines to transmit news programs, music, lectures, general entertainment and advertising directly into private homes.” In 1934, inspired by the catchy, popular brand name of Kodak, Squier himself renamed his company Muzak. Since then, the brand name Muzak has eased itself into the vernacular language to become a common name denoting an entire genre of music known for being bad. Despite the company's relentless efforts to improve or simply to correct its image, the reputation of Muzak remains frankly disastrous.
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