history, technology, cyberculture and nostalgia find a place to meet and mix


Winamp was the first music player I ever used, way back in 1998. It took very little system resources and it was free. Excellent sound reproduction, a variety of skins and a great visualization plugin . (As uncool teenage geeks, skins were definitely a way for us to feel cooler. Winamp also allowed the creation of plugins, which resonated with all the programmer geeks out there.) The mp3 culture was just starting and this product was right in the middle of it all.

Nullsoft was the company. It reflected the culture at the time. They seemed rebellious and independent. Unlike all the humongous monolithic companies out there which produced products like the dry and boring Windows Media Player, or advertisement loaded Real Player.

Just to give you an idea about how the product felt at that time, the credits in the Winamp 2 player included -
Stunt coordinator, Stunts, Puppeteer, Llama wrangler, Animal trainer, Assistant to Fifi, Watching anime, Karate scene coordinator, Topless dancer, Prime numbers, Pyrotechnics, Beer, Catering, Elevator music, Gaffer, Often annoying public manipulation, Genetic engineering, Breast examination, Translator, Warfare tech, Shipbuilding, Bad humor, Plasterer, Carpentry, Extras, Stand-ins, etc.

They ended it by thanking Dallas Square-dancing Hall of fame and San Diego Zoo amongst others.
Filmed in amazing Technicolor.
Soundtrack available on Fuckit Records

Btw, Elevator music was credited to 'The Robies'. They are an obscure band about which I could get no information but for this youtube video - Superman - The Robies. Sounds like Greenday.

The Sellout
It has changed a lot over the years including the one time it decided to sell itself out to the cold evil corporate world. 80 Million $ is A LOT of money. It made Justin Frankel, the creator of Winamp and Nullsoft a rich man but all of us moaned at the prospect of Winamp losing its independence. The free creative world which spawned all good things on the internet replaced by the cold corporate world, passionless, where innovation would be replaced by plain old manipulation, and we would soon have bad products stuffed down our throat till we puked and moved over to the next new thing.
(This article is just after the sellout happened - Winamp wins big )

I did come across articles which talked about how the old Winamp team could not gel with the new corporate culture and slowly left, one by one. (Read Death Knell Sounds for Nullsoft, Winamp)
The last of the original team left by 2004, disillusioned by the AOL work culture (Steve Gedekian to Apple. See Nullsoft's future in a void).

Winamp3 was released in August 2002. It was to be the next best thing in music. But it was bad for those day's standards. It took a lot of system resources and just wasn't worth the effort of switching. It forced Winamp to continue developing the Winamp 2 series. A step back during the height of media player competition. (See AOL admits failure of Winamp revamp)

It soon fused the Winamp 2 and Winamp3 branches of development to create the Winamp 5. (2 + 3 = 5). This was in December 2003. It was around now that I moved on from Winamp to other alternatives. It just wasn't the same old simple player. It had become into a complete media suite, and was now just like any other product out there. Nothing new or unique. People had feared that it might go the Sonique way and completely vanish but it seems to have held on.

After years of infidelity and sleeping around, I moved back to Winamp this year. Maybe it was the nostalgia or the familiar interface which they have retained even after so many years. Its still a pretty good product, though not revolutionary or cool any more. I now use it to catalog my music while using VLC Media Player or Media Player Classic for quickly playing files.


Winamp always had a llama story about it. (Picture on the left is from the Winamp site. Its says "Justin Frankel (right), in mid 1997, in his hometown of Sedona, AZ."
In the faqs, they answer about the llama :
What's up with the Llama?

There have been many rumors and myths about Mike the Llama. This is just one of the universe's questions that will never get answered... ;)

The iconic Wesley Willis inspired "Winamp - it really whips the Llama's ass."

The Transition

To download old versions of Winamp, head over to A Winamp Heaven or Oldversions - Winamp

How to make two llamas headbang to the beats in Winamp 5 :

With the default (Modern) skin chosen, stretch the main window until the Beat Analyzer appears; it says "BEAT" under it. Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift and click exactly at the center of the Beat Analyzer, then play a song with fast beats and loud bass.

The fall of Winamp - Google Trends - Winamp
Winamp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Experience Festival - Winamp History
A Brief Look at the history Winamp | Webby's World

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