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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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VLC Media Player: the free video player with 3.5 billion downloads that can handle any file

The VLC Media Player was invented by a group of students from Paris 20 years ago. Those guys created a free and open source program capable of playing any video or song

We exchanged hand-labeled CDs in the schoolyard with movies, music, and video clips. A buoyant market based on barter that emerged in the early 2000s and that in a short time allowed us access to culture that we could not even imagine before. However, when we got home there was a problem: we could not play the files on the CD because the happy Windows Media Player (which came standard with the computer) was missing this or that Codec.

The situation, unfortunately quite common at the time, was frustrating. Your friend had given you long teeth telling you how cool the second Indiana Jones was and all you could see was an error message that this or that codec was missing. If you had internet at home, you had to look for the happy codec as if it were the key to the Lost Ark (on pages of doubtful reputation) exposing your pc to a collection of viruses. If you didn’t have the Internet to search for the happy codec, then you were out of a movie.

This was the case for a while until a boy in my class showed up with a CD on which he had written “VLC” with a blue marker. That little program was a real revolution in our lives: the end of having to go around suffering because of the happy codecs. It was as simple as installing the program, double-clicking on the cone that appeared on the desktop, dragging the file of the movie and, voila, enjoying Indiaina Jones. Never again were there any problems playing video or music, VLC could (and can) do it all.

Although at that time we had no idea, those responsible for that feat were a group of university students from the École Centrale de Paris, who in 2001 created the VLC Media Player.

In turn, the germ of VLC was the VideoLAN organization at the École Central de Paris, when the students reached an agreement with an external sponsor (a French broadcaster) who wanted to use the campus laboratory to broadcast IP television.

Since February 1, 2001, the director of the École Central de Paris allowed the open source code of the VideoLAN project in the GNU General Public License, developers from different countries such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have been adapting it for Mac, Windows and Linux, firing its popularity around the world in no time thanks to word of mouth.

keep VLC alive

Throughout its 20-year history, more than 1,000 people have worked selflessly to keep VLC alive and up-to-date. In this time, they have achieved a staggering 3.5 billion downloads from around the world.

Like many of the users who grew up with the sound of the modem to connect to the Internet (that happy piiii-pi-ri-pipi-pi-pi-pi-pi-ri that sounded at a volume worthy of the alarm of the nuclear power plant of Chernobyl alerting parents and neighbors of the incursion into the web) VLC was a great milestone in his life allowing me to enjoy thousands of hours of content easily and for free.

To this day, VLC is still very much alive. His team of volunteers works on new versions of the program, improving the interface, the quality of video, audio and subtitles.

If by any chance you still did not know VLC, you can download it for free at this link. It is available for any type of mobile and computer operating system.

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