Compendium started out in 1974 as a classic hippie enterprise. At the time, the price difference between Norway and England for records was quite substantial, and Compendium found out that they could sell the albums cheaper than the other stores by importing directly from England and still make money. The first crew of Compendium Records consisted of Frode Holm, Gunnar Skogen and Jomar Johansen. By 1975, Compendium was in full bloom, they included not only a record store, but also a book store, a small coffee room, oriental goods and posters.
After Frode Holm went to see the band Henry Cow perform at Kensington theatre in London and was completely blown away, he invited the band to Oslo to hold a concert at the Henie Onstad Art Centre. The sold-out concert was taped and this recording together with others live tapes ended up as Compendium's first release, Henry Cow - Concerts.
Compendium Records then released albums by Soft Machine's members Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean who they already met at the time of Soft Machine concert at the Henie Onstad Art Centre in Oslo in 1971, and several other British renowned jazz artists.
Compendium also released some Norwegian jazz and progressive rock music.
In 1977 Compendium closed it doors. The label had by then released 10 albums and the store had sold thousands of progressive jazz and rock records to the Norwegian public.