History has shown that audio inventions are inevitably followed by corresponding video versions. Radio preceded TV; audio tape was followed by videotape; CDs led to DVDs. No wonder, then, that music files were first to squeeze through the Internet pipeline—and video came later.
After all, downloading even audio files was an exercise in patience back when everyone was still using telephone modems. Waiting eight or nine minutes for a three-megabyte, three-minute pop song to shimmy down the wire was pretty common. But a full movie, hundreds of megabytes big—well, the downloading of such monster files would last longer than some Hollywood marriages.
Broadband changed all that. With super-fast cable or DSL connections, you can get an entire high-resolution movie in a matter of minutes, not months. Movie and video companies have also noticed that people want to watch stuff on their own schedules and on their own devices, like laptops or portable video players.
The ability to watch movies wherever and whenever you want has led to a boom in downloadable video services, peddling everything from full-length movies to free quirky bits of home-cooked funny videos.
This chapter gives you the big picture on the little picture.
Early Web video of the 1990s was often a fuzzy, grainy affair with jerky movements and not the sharpest of onscreen images. You usually got a few minutes of low-resolution action, but it was exciting at the time because ...