Back in the days when 56k modem connections reigned supreme, Windows 98 was the king of mambo, and music streaming was practically a utopian dream, Winamp was the leading audio player. The fact that it consumed very little memory, together with its minimalist design and customization options, made it an essential on desktop computers around the world. Now, 15 years after its birth, AOL has announced on the program’s official webpage that soon it will no longer be distributed or provide support for Winamp.
Winamp was launched for the first time in 1997 by the software developer Nullsoft, headed up by the visionary Justin Frankel, who had abandoned his university studies to found a company and work on the program. Within a few months after its launch, Winamp was already being used by more than 50 million users, becoming the most popular media player for MP3 files, the format that at that time was reaching its zenith thanks to the expansion of home Internet connections and the growth of programs like Napster.
This rapid ascent prompted the 1999 acquisition of Nullsoft by the communications giant AOL, whose poor management and negligent support for the program has since then caused the gradual loss of Winamp’s market share as it fell out of date, even after support was added for videos and a huge number of formats, although in the majority of cases this support was provided via third-party plugins.
Light-years ahead of Windows Media Player in its early days, Winamp provided comprehensive configuration options for the interface for the media player itself, the playlist, and the equalizer, all of which could also be completely customized, with an huge marketplace of skins and themes, as well as plugins of all sorts that expanded the program’s possibilities as far as you wanted to take them.
This might be a good time for us all to take a moment of silence and remember the media player’s iconic slogan.