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Brief History

QuickTime (a.k.a. Project: Warhol) first came to life back in 1989 with the Warhol (Campbell Soup Can icon) mac-based system add-on INIT to provide video, audio and basic text handling all within a single file on the Mac OS (System 6). The official release was in 1991 which also brought basic video and audio capturing support to the OS.

With it's second release in 1994, QuickTime really brought meaning to the word "Multimedia" by adding support for music (MIDI), animated sprites, enhanced text, media timecodes, playback modifiers (tweens), track references/chapter lists, and VideoCDs (MPEG-1). A basic 16-bit Windows version was also released. Revisions included support for 360 degree panoramas/objects, 3D rendered objects, modifier tracks, and improved MPEG and MIDI handlers.

The third release in 1998 had an improved interface, fuller 32-bit Windows support, and more improvements to it's various components. Including the bundling of low bit rate codecs like Sorenson, QDesign Music and Qualcomm's PureVoice. Also Roland's GS 8 Bit MIDI instrument library and support for real time transitions and image filters were added.

In 1999 came a completely different metallic styled interface with Real Time UDP streaming support. Support for Macromedia's Shockwave Flash 3 and more graphic based image decoders were added. As well as a better panorama image render.

The fifth release for 2001 promised full MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 playback video/audio support on both platforms. MPEG-2 decoding could have been a pro only feature, but licensing reasons prevented it from being added at all. A cubical VR panorama engine, a completely new MIDI synthesizer, Shockwave Flash 4 media handler, new Sorenson codec, PreFlight text importer, and ShoutCast playlist support.

The current release for 2002 has full MPEG-2 playback video/audio as an extra commercial component and full MPEG-4 video support on both platforms. MPEG-2 decoding must be purchased as a separate product, due to licensing restrictions with MPEG-LA. Other new features are an MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding codec, the open standard MPEG-4 CELP vocoder option has yet to be added so the only option is the already available proprietary PureVoice CELP vocoder, and Shockwave Flash 5 media handler.

NOTE: MIDI and MPEG-1 are only supported by external extensions whose Mac OS names are 'QuickTime Musical Instruments' and 'QuickTime MPEG Extension'. Also the latter is now supported on the 32-bit Windows platform in version 5.

QuickTime(Sound Manager) versions were roughly released as follows:

   Pre-Release = 1989     2.0(3.0) = 1994         4.0(3.6) = 1999   5.0.1(3.6.7) = 2001
           1.0 = 1991   2.5(3.2.1) = 1996       4.1(3.6.5) = 2000   5.0.2(3.6.7) = 2001
           1.5 = 1992     3.0(3.3) = 1998   4.2/5.0(3.6.6) = 2001   5.1/6.0(3.7) = 2002

What's in QuickTime

Check out the Formats Page for an overview of the supported file formats and media encoders.
Also check out the QuickTime Install Status Ticker, QuickTime Extras and the Encoded Media pages.
Note: the QT Extras page is a little plugin intensive.

This is an overview of QuickTime's main big endian (network) file formats:

This is a list of proprietary big endian (network) media file formats:

This is a list of proprietary little endian (Intel) media file formats:

1 - Basic object navigation layout is similar to a QuickTime movie only in terms of it using four character type codes followed by atom-like long offsets,
however the structure is closer to that of a RIFF AVI file.
2 - Whereas ASF is basically an extension of RMF that uses 16 byte hexadecimal GUID type codes followed by atom-like 8 byte offsets.

For information related to the above QuickTime formats check out the following text files:

1 - Some useful QT related Mac OS Gestalt selectors(most do map to win32 processes).

For an overview of the component architecture check out the following text files:

The companies that support QuickTime via their image/sound codecs and other add-ons are:

1 - David Most has a number of sound(voice-based) codecs for QuickTime and are currently bundled with Microsoft's Media Player.

QuickTime Hacks for the Mac OS

Below are a couple of hacks I made/found to make my life easier when using QuickTime version 4. They are compressed with StuffIt 5.
NOTE 1: Since the Windows OS doesn't use a multi-forked file system the following hacks are next to impossible to do without re-writing the code.
NOTE 2: Add-on library files need to go into the same directory as the main QT extensions, not the "QT Extensions" directory.
NOTE 3: Add-on plugin files need to go into the same directory as the MoviePlayer app, not the QT system directory which QuickTime player uses.
DISCLAIMER: They are not endorsed or sanctioned by Apple nor their affiliate companies. They are provided only to bring back support for features that were part of older QT versions.