Feeds

Happy birthday, Apple QuickTime

Released 20 years ago today

5 things you didn’t know about cloud 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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.