The Troubled Origins of .ZIP | Nostalgia Nerd

30 sep 2020
224 262 visningar

The first 1000 people who click the link will get 2 free months of Skillshare Premium: skl.sh/nostalgianerd09201... PKWare, PKZIP, PKUNZIP, these are all names which mean something significant to me. For most of the 90s, the PK tools were probably the most frequently used in my toolbox. Compressing Doom from my mate's PC across several floppy disks, creating my own VB installers, downloading data from bulletin boards or the early internet. It was an essential compression/decompression tool. But, the story of its origins is a little more tarnished than perhaps you would expect. If you've hard of SEA and their ARC file format, you might already know. Let's dive in.
Thanks to Tony Zinicola, Jr. for emailing me regarding this story. If you have any stories you want covered, email me at peter [at] nostalgianerd.com
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BBS: The Documentary - www.bbsdocumentary.com/
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📜 Resources 📜
USENet discussion on Google Groups: groups.google.com/g/comp.sys.ibm.pc/c/RYb_e6r3efI
Legal Complaint filing: www.textfiles.com/computers/arcsuit.txt
Andrew Foray Obituary: www.esva.net/~thom/Andy/Obituary.htm
Chicago Tribune Story: www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2000-05-21-0005210218-story.html
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Kommentarer
  • BBS: The Documentary is essential viewing, if you haven't already seen it. Check out www.bbsdocumentary.com/ or watch the entire documentary through Jason Scott's playlist at seworld.info/will/epzIx8qdhah8sYU/video. You can follow Jason on Twitter at twitter.com/textfiles

    Nostalgia NerdNostalgia Nerd29 dagar sedan
    • @Jason Scott No doubt. It's a great documentary and super in depth. I hope documentaries as thoughtful will appear (have appeared?) for other computers/countries. The teletext system is interesting, as well as France's national computer service they ran (the name escapes me at the moment). I'm sure there's interesting stuff that's obscure to english speaking territories that existed in Asia as well. Hopefully it's just a matter of time for some of those histories to be properly documented. Peace!

      Jeremy LandryJeremy Landry18 timmar sedan
    • @Jeremy Landry I knew getting other countries would bust my budget at the time (I paid for the BBS documentary all by myself, doing a pre-ordering at the end to pay for the duplication).

      Jason ScottJason ScottDag sedan
    • Omg never heard of this! BBS' changed my life, I was a teen, it was pre-internet days as far as the public was concerned and me and my stepdad connected over computers and he showed me how to call in to BBS'! Soon I was downloading warez and playing Baron Realms Elite!

      Hermetic XhaoteHermetic Xhaote23 dagar sedan
    • The series is very American centric. Multiple regions had systems of their own with their own stories. Furthermore, there were simultaneously boards for other computers existing in the same time frame. BBS is about IBM PC compatibles ecosystem and networking alone. It's a damn good serious, but it's deliberately focused on one specific area in one specific region, but arguably the largest, most populous one of the time. Peace and love.

      Jeremy LandryJeremy Landry24 dagar sedan
    • Fuck Skillshare, And Fuck all google advertisers!!!

      Hamtaro126Hamtaro12625 dagar sedan
  • 7-Zip has entered the chat

    gothael1gothael113 timmar sedan
  • 5:57 You mention the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The overview you show is of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Just an FYI.

    Bluenote22Bluenote222 dagar sedan
  • I am more an ARJ kind of person :>

    J BJ B2 dagar sedan
  • Cut and DRIED.

    Andrew HoldawayAndrew Holdaway2 dagar sedan
  • Isn’t that because...... Mr.Shot get killed? as the shot digital coding system is a really good thing.

    Freddy LiFreddy Li3 dagar sedan
  • What isn't made completely clear is Phil Katz knowingly stole the ARC compression code and was a massive dick about it too. It's kind of glossed over at 7:38 - it's not "He didn't think he did anything wrong." He knew full well. It was made open source by SEA as a kindness - you need to buy a licence to use the code commercially. (This is exactly how Unreal Engine 4 works right now - try repurposing their code and advertising right next to them and see how far you get!) Phil made improvements, but then made large amounts of money off that original algorithm, and their business model. SEA was able to disassemble PKUnzip and find the exact same spelling mistakes they put in their code. They diplomatically asked for a licence, and, using unpleasant language, he told them where to shove it, claming it was all original work, which of course was an outright lie. When they finally moved to sue, he promoted himself as the little underdog being sued by the big bad company (even though they were both out-of-home operated businesses). He knew it would be a great story for the public, and it worked. Nearly all re-tellings of this story still to this day describe him as a kindly soul just dedicating software to the community. It was only when the court case actually went ahead that he caved in and settled out of court because he knew he was doing the wrong thing. You can read more from Thom himself (SEA) here www.esva.net/~thom/philkatz.html and the links there.

    Clint HobsonClint Hobson3 dagar sedan
  • PKZIP!

    tr1p1eatr1p1ea3 dagar sedan
  • Did you forget PKZIPFIX? Also ARC would even make its way into ICD's SpartaDOS X cartridge for the Atari 8-bit.

    The Annoyed Mr FloydThe Annoyed Mr Floyd4 dagar sedan
  • I still use ARJ (I am a BBS sysop and developer). Better compression than ZIP and there is an open-source version of ARJ (not official but works just the same). ARJ is still available for purchase by the Jung family with DOS and Windows versions available. I knew about the backhandedness of Phil Katz years ago and didn't like using ZIP for that reason but I used it since it was popular. These days, I use ARJ without any issues. RAR is great but with all of the improvement and major changes to its algorithm, RAR is lousy for backwards compatibility.

    Sean DennisSean Dennis4 dagar sedan
  • As someone who was around during this period, I can say, in my case, it had nothing to do with who made the utilities. Phil's stuff was just waaaaay faster. And back then... speed was everything. We were always looking for ways to get our computers to do things faster. Only having 10 minutes of the video watched as of writing this, I going to say, this is why pretty much everyone moved to ZIP after the dust settled. It was faster, and compressed better. But there were a lot of utilities to do this at the time. In hindsight, I wish we'd all just used the tar format and compression filters, which is how we do things in unix/linux, and how it was done then too. Tar hasn't changed much in 50 years. As a result, even a modern linux box with tar can still read old tar archives.

    Chetar RubyChetar Ruby6 dagar sedan
  • renegade BBS :)

    Chris TeschkeChris Teschke6 dagar sedan
  • TLDR Zip came from updated stolen code

    LunarFoxzLunarFoxz7 dagar sedan
  • I sometimes just use wim as archive format lol.

    Old LiquidOld Liquid7 dagar sedan
  • When is 7-Zip going to release 8-Zip?!

    Mr. GarbageMr. Garbage7 dagar sedan
  • Oh, SEA was sold to a Japanese firm? Maybe that explains why I ran into so many .arc files from Japanese sources in the late 90s, despite it being outdated for many years at that point.

    Tannhäuser GateTannhäuser Gate8 dagar sedan
  • DUDE YOU ALIVE????

    Joe ManningJoe Manning8 dagar sedan
  • Not bibi S??

    Richard MRichard M8 dagar sedan
  • Holy hell dude, this was a great listen while vacuuming the floor at my work! This is quite an amazing educational vid

    YamiGekusuYamiGekusu8 dagar sedan
  • I found/find the overwhelming advantage of any of these programs was not the compression, but the *archiving*, the conversion of multiple files into a single file for transfer, so you just transfer StarTrek.zip instead of having to transfer StarTrek.exe, StarTrek.ini, StarTrek.doc, ReadMe.txt, trek001.dat, trek002.dat, trek003.dat etc etc etc etc.

    Jonathan HarstonJonathan Harston9 dagar sedan
  • Back in time, the first compression utility I have used is Arj for DOS. It was slow but I think it gave better compression than pkzip. Then i quickly moved to another compressor - AIN. Ain was written by a Russian company and was giving superior speed and compression to ARJ. Then we got RAR. RAR was simply the best. After RAR somebody invented the arithmetic coding. I've seen some underground but outstanding compression utilities which have gone into oblivion. And 7-zip appeared with LZMA support.

    Angel GAngel G9 dagar sedan
  • PKZIP, I still use that everyday. Part of a programming software

    DeKempsterDeKempster9 dagar sedan
  • Before .RAR was available I was all about .ARJ compression. Much more options and overall a better software than ZIP was. Then came RAR

    twistedtxbtwistedtxb9 dagar sedan
  • whatever you do don't tell me it's actually pronounced "Jip" 😉

    Shadowmaster625Shadowmaster62511 dagar sedan
  • Everybody uses zip these days?????????????? Yes maybe in 2005

    Atomy111Atomy11111 dagar sedan
  • 10:18 Grognards ruin everything. Absolutely everything.

    phuturephunkphuturephunk12 dagar sedan
  • Did i see the Frankfurter Römer?

    Mark St.Mark St.12 dagar sedan
  • Nice video. Where are those days that you had no choice to compress files to store it on a cd, dvd or sending files by mails? We have come a long way. I personally do not need to use it anymore.

    Yves GyselYves Gysel12 dagar sedan
  • Yeah, i remember .LZH and .ARJ competitor of .ZIP.

    KaynosKaynos13 dagar sedan
  • Do you write your own closed captions? If you do, there is a typo. The timestamp is getting displayed instead of the intended caption text. Check around 0:16:00.920

    PatrickPatrick13 dagar sedan
  • May have been asked b4: So, how does winzip relate to this? Why is .zip still weird on my top of the line for 2008 win7 deskiy? I feel there's still some strangeness in the equation because I find I have to DL a zip program whenever I reinstall a "modern" win OS.

    H\-/ LeathH\-/ Leath14 dagar sedan
  • *Phil Katz:* (delivers huge reams of blank paper) *Phil Katz:* "Here is the PKXARC source code...written in Whitespace."

    AkashicRecordAkashicRecord15 dagar sedan
  • And then a time traveler with "Bzip2" arrives and overtakes the world...

    AkashicRecordAkashicRecord15 dagar sedan
  • This video came on via auto play while I was in the kitchen with my wireless headset, and I was genuinely confused as to when and why Jimmy Broadbent started making IT videos.

    domssondomsson15 dagar sedan
  • That documentary was well worth the 5 hours!

    6942069694206915 dagar sedan
  • captain wankbeard

    RyanRyan16 dagar sedan
  • loving the updated look f your channel!

    ZooblesDooblesZooblesDoobles16 dagar sedan
  • Loving auto generated subtitles. Wis-con-sin in Milwalkie :-)

    FrikinOSMFrikinOSM16 dagar sedan
  • Ah yes, Phil Katz, host of RetroManCave.

    Jay ThomasJay Thomas17 dagar sedan
  • 9:32 Spelling error are very specific my tell is., when I try and just put a period.

    John GaltJohn Galt18 dagar sedan
  • You remind me of Alex Onley from Nintendo Life for some reason

    TheTomekEffectTheTomekEffect18 dagar sedan
  • Surprised no mentioned of arj or 7zip as both were popular as well.

    The-Mike_DThe-Mike_D18 dagar sedan
  • Your video is causing dizziness. Poor editing.

    Evance Jay EEvance Jay E18 dagar sedan
  • 9:25 she talks like a conspiracy theory whistle blower.

    RR19 dagar sedan
  • Sometimes making out your small family business is larger in order to gain respect from other large companies can backfire..

    amojakamojak19 dagar sedan
  • as far as pronunciation i always thought pkxarc was pk-ex-arc :) always fun to hear how everyone else pronounced these things. warez was another fun one :)

    Blair HBlair H19 dagar sedan
  • 👍

    Gacheru MburuGacheru Mburu19 dagar sedan
  • 7zip is the best.

    סאלם עזאםסאלם עזאם20 dagar sedan
  • Back before PKzip became ubiquitous and we started using the word "zip" as an almost generic term like "hey, can you zip those files and send them over?", we used to say "archive" or "arc" instead, such was the impact of ARC.

    donkmeisterdonkmeister20 dagar sedan
  • PkZip and SLICE. both were standard for ages to me. Zip it up, then slice it to floppy

    deboshadowdeboshadow20 dagar sedan
  • There were actually at least three different compression formats that used the extension .ARC, though they weren't all equally popular. Also there were ARK and ARJ, though these were probably named after .ARC. Also LHARC (which is related to LHA and LHZ and LH). And of course numerous other archivers with various names and extensions. Compression was something people really needed at the time, because storage space was at a premium. Unix "compress", which is several years older than PKZip, used the extension .Z There were also (predictably, given how slow hardware was at the time and how much time even a 10% speed improvement would save people) several different software products using the word "zip" in their names, though _at the time_ I don't know if any others were compression-related. Now, of course, there are gzip and bzip2 and 7zip (and, if you count re-implementations of the PKWare format, info-zip and WinZip and Archive::ZIP, among others), and the z in xzip probably stands for zip as well, at least unofficially (they didn't want to call the binary xzip probably because that would conflict with one of the more prominent X11 port of Mark Howell's z-machine VM, which is packaged in a number of major distributions, though xfrotz is more popular). But those compression programs are all twenty-first century except for gzip, and I don't think even it is quite old enough to be relevant here. And yes, the world needed a decent open-standard archive and compression format that handled each file individually. For things like bulk backups, you could just use an archiver and a compressor and create, for example, a .tar.Z file. But at the time, people were actually using compression and archival simply to expand the amount of storage space that they had, and so they needed to be able to read files from the archive individually, and write back updated versions, again, individually. And you couldn't really do that with tarballs; not efficiently anyhow. (Today this would actually be a reasonable approach, but only because computers have vastly more resources than they did back then, both in terms of memory, and also computing power.) Granted, if PK copied their actual source code, that was clearly wrong. He should have written his own implementation. But, if SEA was trying to keep the file format proprietary and require anyone who implemented it to pay royalties, then nobody is going to weep for their loss.

    Jonadab the Unsightly OneJonadab the Unsightly One21 dag sedan
  • PKZ204G.EXE was the version and file I preferred in my BBS days. I also liked Renegade BBS software. Most of the piracy type BBS' I knew of ran it.

    Joshua GibsonJoshua Gibson21 dag sedan
  • man i remember a bunch of compressors arj,lzh,arc hmm no i guess thats it

    Justin MJustin M21 dag sedan
  • Huh.. had no idea that Katz was the bad guy. I always thought the opposite.

    Aaron KellyAaron Kelly21 dag sedan
  • the comments were a coincidence

    Grand Flex Johnson: John Jhon Jon Jonathan IVGrand Flex Johnson: John Jhon Jon Jonathan IV21 dag sedan
  • Dam I am old. I remember so well using pkzip in MS-DOS 6 Good old times when PC world was easy and fun.

    Carlos MendesCarlos Mendes21 dag sedan
  • terrible... you need to STOP making videos and close your channel.

    rob brob b21 dag sedan
  • .arc .lzh .lha .ace and the .zip about all I can remember of the top of my head.

    Erroll LeggoErroll Leggo21 dag sedan
  • I was a weeeee lad during this time... thanks for the mems!!!

    Phylonyous PhunkPhylonyous Phunk21 dag sedan
  • I paused the video at 2:16 to scan the list. There's something wrong with #18. It has a 415 area code, but the listing is in Van Nuys. Van Nuys is far from the 415 area code which in the 80's used to go to Mountain View, CA.

    Rob RicciRob Ricci22 dagar sedan
  • Fidonet was great back in the 90s with dial up internet. You did all your posts and replies, then you connected to a node, uploaded and downloaded all new posts/replies in all the groups you had subscribed to. Sure it could take days to get a reply from somewhere else in the world, but it really worked very well.

    TheStuffMadeTheStuffMade22 dagar sedan
  • btw another algorithm thats missing in the video is Lempel-Ziv-Storer-Szymanski, it is combined with Huffman coding to provide better results (Lempel-Ziv uses a dictionary as a prefix to the file, so that phrases that repeat more often can just refer to the dictionary while Huffman find a more efficient way to represent binary data based on how often that data appears, it uses binary trees to do the calculation but the purpose of the algorithm is to be more efficient in how we use bits to represent that data

    micheal krismicheal kris22 dagar sedan
  • Well now I have a negative opinion of everyone mentioned in this video except for the SEA employees. :(

    dansolodandansolodan22 dagar sedan
  • Please someone help! I remember so long ago a single 1mb ARC file for a halo 2, that uncompressed to almost 2tb for the campaign, and it actually worked!!!

    Ian ThomasIan Thomas22 dagar sedan
  • hey man you got some shit on your face

    Joel BennettJoel Bennett22 dagar sedan
  • Why did you show a picture of Madison Wisconsin when you said he went to University of Wisconsin Milwaukee? That’s like showing a picture of Edinburgh when you are talking about someone from Glasgow.

    Bryce MeyerBryce Meyer22 dagar sedan
  • 08:46 Der Frankfurter Römer! Nice

    onirtnec183onirtnec18322 dagar sedan
  • Yip. I remember PKZIP and PKARC. Great video! Brought back many memories of BBSs and, er, multiple floppy archives!!

    Arcade SundayArcade Sunday22 dagar sedan
  • Like most computer technology battles, the wrong guy won.

    George HGeorge H22 dagar sedan
  • I'd never seen a grown man cry before watching the zip dvd.

    Giz ManningGiz Manning22 dagar sedan
  • I was more of a LHA/LZX person in the '90s ;)

    Tekk NedTekk Ned22 dagar sedan
  • Dates in watching so far (3:11) is wrong, Info-ZIP group established and published in 1992.. Zip was already in wide use at the time.

    raattiraatti22 dagar sedan
    • 1989 PKZIP was relesed. It was popular in demoscene already in 1990. It became standard for warez alongside with ARJ and later RAR. But its implementation, the ZIP file specification was also released into public domain making it free to be used in other products.

      raattiraatti22 dagar sedan
  • ARJ sitting in the corner all ignored and sad

    RenzsuRenzsu22 dagar sedan
  • It's very Windows centric, because LHA/LZH was popular in inbuilt libraries. So Linux went in another direction.

    David of YorkshireDavid of Yorkshire22 dagar sedan
  • You are my other favorite nerd, the other one being a certain ill tempered game enthusiast :)

    LukeLuke23 dagar sedan
  • Wow! I had completely forgotten about ARC. I remember there were some games on my friend’s computer when we were kids that we couldn’t play because they were not an executable file. We had no idea what the ARC extension meant at that time lol. All we knew is what his mom told us: you can only run things that end with .exe or .com

    LukeLuke23 dagar sedan
  • I had completely forgotten about using these PK programs. Been using WinRAR for so long I forget there was a time before GUI.

    Ryno BonesRyno Bones23 dagar sedan
  • Personally, I found the streamlined, but fully functional WinZip 7.0. more reliable. I only used PKZIP (I think it was version 2b?) when I was experimenting with transferring files in DOS using a serial cable. It was quick, and it worked, but due to the compression method, or possibly hardware incinsistencies, files sometimes got slightly corrupted. So, I found a program called 'PharrLapps Ghost' by 'Binary Associates'. It had a NetCast option and its own DOS environment with networking support. It was meant as a data backup and restore program, but if you transferred the files you needed archiving to a floppy disk, the program would build an image file from that, and you had three levels of compression to choose from. Many years later, Symantec bought the program and sold it as the well known Norton Ghost.

    Pen FoldPen Fold23 dagar sedan
  • amazing videos! keep em coming!

    LucasLucas23 dagar sedan
  • (2:13) - Oh dear. I'm sorry but *_that_* pronunciation of "integral" is just so wrong and clearly shows your mathematical deficiencies. It seems that the word "integral" has been somehow latched onto that other word "integrity" And now you get all manner of people who, quite frankly, should know better pronouncing it thus: IN-*TEG*-RAL The word is pronounced: *INT*-UHGR'L, the emphasis being on the *INT,* not the *TEG* Please look up the word in any quality English dictionary. You will see that I am correct. I suppose I am fighting a losing battle here. Much like against those who persist in saying haitch. Oh well, with universal education, I suppose a certain decline in quality is inevitable. And yes, I'm a miserable old fogey. And becoming more miserable with each passing day. >

    BodragonBodragon23 dagar sedan
  • 0:30: Not all of us were around during the 90s. I did not use either of these, as I wasn't born until 2001. This ARC looks interesting, though. It looks like it is actually already installed on my computer, for some reason, including a date on the man page of 1991-11-11 (!!!), but I guess it makes sense it would given it's open source so could easily be ported to Linux. Looking at records, it looks like app-arch/arc was installed on 2017-10-27, which was over a year after I built this computer and installed Gentoo on it. Maybe I was playing with DOS things, I don't know, or maybe some program had it as a dependency.

    happysmash27happysmash2723 dagar sedan
  • Great stuff, I'll definitely be checking out the BBS doc. Thanks.

    Gameplay and TalkGameplay and Talk23 dagar sedan
  • LZX was the best ! At least on the Commodore Amiga.

    Cornflake0750Cornflake075023 dagar sedan
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    Roland BensonRoland Benson23 dagar sedan
  • You didn't even mention smush! Some files it compressed were down to about 25% of their original size.

    lochinvar00465lochinvar0046523 dagar sedan
  • How zip won? Anyone who even thinks about compressing a file these days thinks of 7z that I know of for file data, and years before that is was rar. What year did you come from?

    DuncanDuncan24 dagar sedan
  • Ok .tar.xz/LZMA2 gang rise up and like this comment because imagine it taking time to decompress your archives and having inferior compression ratios, posted by us of course because we're the best around, and the data confirms it.

    Tyler PluimTyler Pluim24 dagar sedan
  • And for some reason on Mac we were using Stuffit. I guess it compressed things better? But was slower and only popular on the mac...

    ZaleucusZaleucus24 dagar sedan
  • Back in the early days I always liked using LHARC, not too sure why, I think I saw some game I purchased and the decompression terminology (I think melting/freezing) was funny and preferred it to ZIP. On my old computer from the 80s I think I had to pay $5 to Prodigy just for the privilege in downloading a shareware version of PKUNZIP (ZIP was separate) and that left a bad taste in my mouth too (no fault of PKWare, but to Prodigy), so I had used LHA/LHZ for quite some time.

    Jonathan WeinraubJonathan Weinraub24 dagar sedan
  • god tier programmers don't exist anymore....its not as profitable as being shitty and releasing an update every 2 days

    smoking onesmoking one24 dagar sedan
  • Fascinating video! I well remember ARC and of course zip (started in computing in 1984 with an OU degree) but never knew the background until now. Well done !

    Peter PiperPeter Piper24 dagar sedan
  • 8:44 The shot of Frankfurt caught me off guard.

    MrTJMishRatMrTJMishRat24 dagar sedan
  • Thought this was going to be Zip drives.

    MyTechMyTech24 dagar sedan
  • It's too bad UHARC never got off the ground. It had amazing compression ratios. But was also really slow. But I'm sure it could find some niche applications like compressing backups of drives and large files.

    Nothing\Nothing\24 dagar sedan
  • What happens nowadays if company A sues company B, can they get to see source code? If you want to be evil and just make court case to see that code.

    effexoneffexon24 dagar sedan
  • Thank you not only for a awesome video on a time I lived through like many...at the time I was like who cares as long as my archives uncompress...but later the details that I never knew that much about are very interesting...then the bbs documentary...what I find...toally off my radar...I spent this last weekend watching the whole thing and i am almost done.

    David ClarkDavid Clark24 dagar sedan
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    James F. BloedelJames F. Bloedel24 dagar sedan
  • A polite question I hope. Why do computer geeks pronouce the interdental 'the' as 'vee'? It's one of those questions which just can't be answered on Google.

    Tony LingTony Ling24 dagar sedan
  • 2:39 Actual and correct example of the current year’s most abused phrase “expanded exponentially”

    Sir Circus CattleSir Circus Cattle24 dagar sedan
  • .tar.gz

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