VideoLAN today announced that VLC, the world’s most used media player, has turned 15 years old. The history is a bit complex here, but the anniversary is being celebrated in relation to when all VideoLAN software was relicensed to the GPL license on February 1, 2001.
The software was originally developed by students at the École Centrale Paris to stream videos from satellite dishes across the campus network. It is now developed by contributors across the world, coordinated by the nonprofit organization VideoLAN.
Jean-Baptiste Kempf, lead developer and president of VideoLAN, explains:
If you’ve been to one of my talks, (if you haven’t, you should come to one), you know that the project that became VideoLAN and VLC, is almost 5 years older than that, and was called Network 2000. Moreover, the first commit on the VideoLAN Client project is from August 8th 1999, by Michel Kaempf had 21275 lines of code already, so the VLC software was started earlier in 1999. However, the most important date for the birth of VLC is when it was allowed to be used outside of the school, and therefore when the project was GPL-ized: February 1st, 2001.
Since that day, VLC has seen 70,000 commits by 700 contributors. It has also received “at least” 2 billion downloads and has “hundreds of millions users,” according to Kempf. Not bad for a nonprofit!
The reason users love it so much is because it plays what other software simply can’t. This is in line with the company’s goal of “VLC plays everything and runs everywhere.” The media player is currently available on 14 platforms: We have now ports for Windows, GNU/Linux, BSD, OS X, iOS, Android, Solaris, Windows Phone, BeOS, OS/2, Android TV, Apple TV, Tizen, and ChromeOS.
In February 2015, VideoLAN pushed out a monster cross-platform release: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows RT, and Android TV. In December, VLC arrived on Chrome OS, and last month, on Apple TV.
The next big project is VLC 3.0, which aims to unify most of the mobile apps, add more GPU decoding, improve the adaptive streaming, and integrate with Chromecast.