Magic QuickTime real!

In may 1991, on Monday 13 th, Apple showed something. Contrary to the laws of nature and impossible in principle. And promised to each user Macs (and then not only Macs) the opportunity to break the law. In six months.

Arthur C. Clarke, a few years before this event, said in an interview, “the best of the technologies of our time is indistinguishable from magic”. With or without Apple, digital video will still be there – all I had to do this in the late ‘ 80s has been, in a more or less suitable for its establishment, has been. It remained only to connect these disparate pieces, bring them to the desired shape and… everything. This is the magic.

The advanced technology group (ATG) Apple just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Put the problem is already half the solution.

All this does not detract from the committed team of QuickTime and Apple. If, in a year or three, digital video was invented by another company, there is no guarantee that her creation would be as elegant and beautiful as QuickTime. We’ll take a tour in his depths, and I hope to be able to reveal the beauty of his inner world – but to prove her elegance and beauty is not necessary.

Technology (“magic”, by Clark), which has existed for almost 30 years, and, in one form or another, working on 2 personal computers billions and 2.5 billions of different mobile devices, above.

The secret to its longevity is simple: QuickTime is designed as a flexible and extensible interactive system for multidimensional data where one of the dimensions is time.

Multimedia technology is only one of its applications to reality, the most famous and probably the most important. It was used by the intelligence agencies of developed countries, and for other purposes – and not only them.

Continued. About the dark years of the dominance of analog video you can find out here.


WWDC’91 took place from 13 to 17 may 1991, at the Convention center of San Jose. Opened her John sculley, is unknown. Known about the performance of John Skalla(!), one of the senior managers of the marketing division of Apple. In 1985 John Scull was the head of marketing of the “revolution in publishing”.

He said that media is a logical continuation of the so-publishing and the next step in the evolution of personal computers. And besides, it is the realization of the benefits of a graphic system on the Mac and IBM PC.

John Skalla I mentioned not only because of the similarity of his name with the name of the head of the company, in the end they don’t even namesakes. After leaving Apple, he became the head of the company Macromind, the Creator Director – application to create and edit digital videos in our time, the descendants of this app live and thrive is Adobe Flash.

A big part of the show were the guys from the QuickTime team, their presentation was not recorded on video, or it has not survived – a pity. Say, QuickTime appeared very artistic and fun.

At this conference, informally and on the sidelines, there has been an event that left a mark in the history of computing. A group of third-party developers gathered (in the last or penultimate day of the conference) in one of the vacant halls of the Convention Center, to develop the concept of universal document format, to facilitate data exchange between programs of different manufacturers. For a basis it was decided to adopt the format of the IFF (Interchange File Format), developed in 1985 for the Amiga computer, with the joint efforts of its founder, Commodore Business Machines and Electronic Arts.

This event was the first in the chain of events that led to the emergence of the OpenDoc project, which played an important role in the history, divided the Apple for those who categorically did not adopt the technology, and those who were ready for it at all.

I rather would have carried myself in the first category, ever write why. And while it will return a year and a half ago, at the end of 1989, when it was just beginning, and the mission is QuickTime still considered impossible.

Getting started

Even if we forget about how all this came to an end, the project was unique. Project participants were provided unlimited access to the developments and achievements of the Apple, even the secret. In addition, one of the requirements of the project was the compatibility of its results with Windows. And inclusion in the media of the ill-fated support of Fax machines, that was one of the requirements of leadership, and the inexhaustible jokes.

A product Manager was appointed Doug Camplejohn, multimedia group in the marketing service of the company. He “translated” requirements management language technically competent people, reducing them to three main points:

compression of video and audio data. Analog video is squeezed for a long time, but digital representation can significantly increase the compression ratio;
universal watch. The exact mechanism for working with real time, which is synchronization, for example, the audio signal with the video;
the data format for multimedia. To convert multimedia data format with its file type, which could be applied in the operating system regardless of byte order.

Thinking. Doug has added another key task. About the Fax machine. Smart will understand, and others in the group to take not going to.

Group derived from the jurisdiction of ATG, now it was directly under John sculley, has allocated to your office, across the street from the main building, Apple, and appointed Bruce Lika a technical project Manager. Allocated funding (development of QuickTime to cost Apple dearly), and provided unlimited freedom within the framework of the internal regulations of Apple Computer and the laws of the state of California.

A decent pizzeria was on the same side of Mariani Avenue.

In early January 1990, a group of QuickTime officially started to work.

Compressor, timing and universal format

Convert video to an acceptable length in a file that can be placed on the disk then Mac or PC-shki, was very difficult. If not access to the secret technology of Apple, compression algorithms would have to develop the team, and no one would guarantee success in this endeavor.

The principles of data compression have already been published, the basis of this case was taught in universities, and, from the point of view of the layman or Manager, to develop something “in place” and would be “piece of cake”.
Time for the algorithm was given a little bit, and the compression required is more than childish. In ATG were masters of this business, and algorithms based on which has created a symmetrical compressor data. In the first version of QuickTime it codec known as “Road Pizza”. Compressive data as the tires of thousands of cars pressed into the asphalt fell on his slice of pizza. Doing it so quickly that the user did not even know what difficult data manipulations it performs on the computer.

Video, executable on a Mac, in theory, could be of a different origin. For example, a visitor from our time would remove for iPhone taking place in the pizzeria near the office QuickTime, and reset the video to the then Mac. A dozen megabytes, most likely, Mac 1990 would be able to import. In a few hours. Or days. The periphery was then very slow, Bluetooth was not supported – would have a hard time.

But with aliens from another time is tight, it is not even known whether they do, and experiment with video shot on an iPhone on Macintosh IIx I didn’t spend, not the fact that will.

The main video source was the digitization of analog sources, and the sizes of such digital files easily reach a couple hundred megabytes. Therefore for storing and transporting video used CD. Then they called the CD/ROM, and has only just gained popularity.

CD, to the surprise of the natives of that period of history, the slowness was second only to floppy disks, a volume of 1.44 megabytes (the SuperDrive). But the drive fit 650 megabytes, and the CD manufacturers give a 100 year guarantee to their fragile and breakable like crystal media. And cost “blanks” (blank CD), I think, cheaper than floppy disks.

Here they live and stored. Despite the confusion, in Vogue, in addition to the huge laser discs huge diameter, appeared normal (for mean) CD-ROM video in analog form. Consumers were confused, furious helplessness, appealed to the courts of all instances I such disks are not seen, only heard about them. And than ended in the courts, I don’t know, but as on the packaging and on the disc itself, it was written that this Video disc, and that it does not work with CD-drives of the computer, afraid that anything good for the applicant.

Users of computers at the time could read, and used this skill in life, they have, like, no problems arise. Not all users are the same, but more on that another time.

Timing pull was nowhere, everything related to him long and hard was in the team.

A program was written with user interface for testing “the machines exact time” – library of timing. Display exact version of the algorithm, the time. It was called “Universal watch”. For a long time nothing worked. Time and effort on the exact time it took a lot, but since the mid-1990s, it worked like a clock.

They are now or were not given anything at all (bugs still were), or reported unrealistic exact time.

File format QTFF deserves special consideration… It became the basis for MPEG-4, what is already outdated habit anti-Apple ad, public sources prefer to remain silent. Or to remember seldom.

In continuing the explanation of some unexplained phenomena: why Apple needed QuickTime for Windows.

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