Feeds

Happy birthday, Apple QuickTime

Released 20 years ago today

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Codec compendium

The lawsuit would continue in and out of courts unresolved until August 1997 when Apple and Microsoft settled, part of the two firms' reconciliation followed long-departed co-founder Steve Jobs' return to Apple's helm that year.

QuickTime trailer site as it is today

QuickTime 3.0's Sorenson codec paved the way for Apple's movie trailer site

QuickTime itself had changed during that time. Version 1.5 had added the Cinepak – aka Compact Video – codec from SuperMac, a company that developed multi-processor technology for Macs. Cinepak added the ability to present subtitles over the video.

In 1993, QuickTime 1.6 brought fresh tweaks, while version 1.6.2 added support for Apple's new processor platform, PowerPC. February 1994 saw the release of QuickTime 2.0 and with it MIDI playback. The arrival of 2.1 and 2.5 saw enhanced music playback, the addition of sprites, and the ability to create and present panoramic VR-style images.

QuickTime 3 Player

QuickTime Player through the ages: circa 1998...

QuickTime 3.0 gained the Sorenson video codec when it was released in March 1998. Sorenson's superior compression tech allowed coders to deliver much better results than they could achieve with Cinepak, and the move laid the foundation for Apple's popular movie trailers site.

QuickTime 4.0, released in June 1999, added the MPEG 1 Layer 3 audio codec - aka MP3 - to the software. Version 4.1 added support for variable bit-rate MP3s. July 2002's release of QuickTome 6.0 added MPEG 4 video and AAC audio - both key components of what would become Apple's iTunes content stores.

QuickTime X Player

...and into the early noughties...

QuickTime is now at version 10.1 – under the QuickTime X brand – on Mac OS X, and 7.7.1 on Windows.

Looking back, it's easy to dismiss the early QuickTime – with its tiny image size and scratchy, low bit-rate sound – as a gimmick, but the technology was genuinely ground-breaking at the time of its release. Computers had shown video before, but not without some very expensive add-on technology. This was the first time video could be done on an ordinary home machine.

QuickTime X Player

...circa 2005...

Software developers certainly appreciated the technology, and if many of the games and CD-Rom presentations that made use of it left a lot to be desired – video clips designed to blend into a pre-rendered background but failing to do so through a mix of misalignment and 8-bit colour dithering were commonplace – it was not through want of trying.

QuickTime X Player

...and QuickTime X in 2011

And its plug-in architecture has allowed QuickTime to adopt, and developers to use, a wide array of open code standards. Even those not favoured by Apple can be inserted into the OS this way, as the successful Perian project has shown. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.