History of The Winamp – Part 1

Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome aboard our new vice president associate editor Tim Moore. He’ll be familiarizing himself with the catalog and archives and will report back with his analysis. He moves from an executive management position at a family run Baltimore moving company, where he’s handled multiple executive level responsibilities for 5 years. He’s working on a novel centered on the cutthroat nature of American business.

WinAMP – as by now you probably already know – is a proprietary media player created for Windows-based PCs. The software was written by Nullsoft, which is now a subsidiary of AOL. It’s freeware/shareware (just the way we like it), extensible with skins and plug-ins, multi-format and noted for its media library features, playlist and graphical sound visualization.

The initial rollout build of Winamp was released in 1997 by Justin Frankel, coinciding with the developing trend of audio (mp3) file sharing.

Here’s a bit of history:

The AMP part of WinAMP stands for Advanced Multimedia Products.

WinAMP 0.20a
The first version of WinAMP(WinAMP 0.20a) in 1997, on April 21. It was strictly freeware. The interface consisted of a menubar (no windows), which showed functions for play (i.e. open) stop, pause and unpause functions. The sound file specified on the command line, or alternatively dropped onto its icon, would be played.

The decoding engine was designed by Tomislav Uzelac, and was free for non-commercial use.

WinAMP 0.92

WinAMP 0.92 was released in May 1997 again as freeware. In this incarnation, the look of WinAMP begin to look like the “classic” Winamp GUI – to be specific, this version introduced the dark gray rectangle complete with silver transport buttons, a green/red volume slider, the time displayed in a LED green font, with trackname, “mixrate” and MP3 bitrate in green. Note that there was no position bar, and only a blank area where the wavefore and spectrum analyzers would later appear. In this version, users were able to drop multiple files on the command line or onto Winamp’s icon, which would then be queued up to play.

Winamp 1

June 7, 1997 was the date that Version 1.006 was released. WinAMP was renamed to Winamp, and we saw the introduction of a spectrum analyzer, along with a color changing volume slider. The help menu included a non-commercial license.

On March 31, 1998, version 1.90 was released and Winamp was touted as a a general-purpose audio player. The Winamp.com website claimed it now supported plugins, proving it by including two input plugins (MP3 and MOD), along with a visualization plugin. The version 1.91 installer, released in April 1998, included cdda, wave, and Windows tray handling plugins, along with the famous Wesley Willis-inspired DEMO.MP3 file, “Winamp, it really whips the llama’s ass”.


I’ll tell you what, I’ve never had an easier time of something. You would think that the first time you were using something there would be some sort of a learning curb but amazingly there was not. I absolutely love the ease of using this thing. It really doesn’t get much better than that. If you have ever had a hard time with another then just try using this one and you will not only be amazed but happy with your decision too.

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