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INFOGRAPHIC – The History of Digital Video File Formats

by Real Team on April 22, 2012

Can you believe it? In 2012, Americans are on track to watch more video streaming over the Internet than they will on DVD or Blu-ray combined, according to a new study by IHS. Consumers will pay to legally stream over 3.4 billion movies online, 1 billion more than physical media this year!

It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come since 1984, when the very first digital video format (H.120) was developed. Even though it just had a max resolution of 176 x 144 and a pithy 2 Mbit/s bitrate, this breakthrough set the stage for digital video. Because of innovations that started with the H.120 digital video format, we are now able to stream very high quality videos and movies over the World Wide Web (in high definition).

In celebration of the growth of online streaming video, we put together a history/overview of digital file formats. Enjoy, and be sure to leave your comments below!

digital video file formats

Help us celebrate the growth of digital video by sharing how far we’ve come! Embed the above image on your site, just paste the following code on your page:

Helping you choose the best FLV, AVI and MKV player – Infographic by RealPlayer.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sosyal Medya April 23, 2012 at 5:53 am

Very useful infographic for video history.Thank you from Turkey.

2 Bill April 23, 2012 at 6:40 am

Thanks for this overview, having spent a few years in broadcast engineering, it’s nice to have this information summarized. BTW in the second part of the article I can’t see the “following code” instead, the image appears once again as the embedded result ! (OSX 10.7.3, Safari 5.1.5).

3 Eric Likness April 23, 2012 at 6:54 am

Apple released the first version of QuickTime on December 2, 1991 as a multimedia add-on for System Software 6 and later. The lead developer of QuickTime, Bruce Leak, ran the first public demonstration at the May 1991 Worldwide Developers Conference, where he played Apple’s famous 1984 TV commercial on a Mac, an astounding technological breakthrough at the time. Microsoft’s competing technology, Video for Windows did not appear until November 1992.

4 Brenda April 23, 2012 at 9:53 am

Amazing to see how much video has changed in the past 30 years! 1991 seems to be a milestone with the introduction of MPEG.

5 Jeff April 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Hey Bill-

That little issue should be fixed now, thanks for the information.

6 Brad Z April 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm

The evolution of video technology seems to look like a history of Michael Jackson’s facial reconstruction surgeries!

7 Real Team April 24, 2012 at 10:36 am


Thank you for the clarification on QuickTime and making sure that QuickTime is fully represented here. The version included on the infographic above is one of the later versions when it was officially approved by ISO as the basis of the MPEG-4 file format.

8 Rubs April 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Love this….too bad the resolution of the overview is also in h.261 making it almost completely unreadable.
Thanks for the eye strain.

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