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Winamp is a media player application developed and released as freeware by Nullsoft in April 1997. It is widely known as one of the first widely adopted MP3 players.
On April 21st, 1997, Nullsoft founders Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev released the first version of Winamp, a portmanteau of “windows” and “amp,” as a freeware Windows media player for MP3 music files. On June 7th, an updated version was released which featured a spectrum analyzer and switched the license from freeware to shareware, urging users to pay $10 after two weeks of use. On March 31st, 1998, version 1.90 was released with support for plugins, different styles of music visualization and the Wesley Willis-inspired audio file of a man saying “Winamp, it really whips the llama’s ass” (shown below).
On September 8th, Winamp 2.0 was released with several new usability improvements, giving users the ability to add custom skins and an improved equalizer. In June 1999, AOL purchased Nullsoft for $80 million in stock. On August 9th, 2002, Winamp 3 was released with a new application framework. In December 2003, Winamp 5 was released, which skipped Winamp 4 as Nullsoft joked “Nobody wants to see a Winamp 4 skin” with “4 skin” as a pun for foreskin. The new interface was a combination of elements from Winamp 2 and Winamp 3.
As of October 2011, Winamp became compatible with all major operating systems, Microsoft Windows, OS X and Google. On October 14th, 2013, Nullsoft released the Winamp application for the Google Android mobile operating system (shown below).
On November 20th, 2013, AOL posted an announcement that Winamp would no longer be available for download past December 20th, 2013 (shown below).
The same day, the SaveWinamp website was launched and a “Save Winamp” Change.org petition titled was created, accumulating over 48,000 signatures in the first two months. On November 25th, the tech news blog Ars Technica reported on the “Save Winamp” campaign, which urged AOL to make the Winamp software open source.
By December 20th, Winamp was still available for download on the official website. On January 14th, 2014, Winamp was sold to the Belgian online radio company Radionomy for an undisclosed sum in cash and stock, estimated between $5 million and $10 million, with AOL taking a 12% stake of Radionomy’s company as part of the deal.
Upon its release, Winamp 2.0 was widely adopted as an MP3 player due to its ease of use and customization and became one of the most downloaded Windows applications according to the tech news blog CNET.. When Winamp 3 was released in 2002, many users complained that the new application framework was unstable and did not provide compatibility with plugins and skins from previous versions of Winamp.
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