BBS: The Documentary & the “ARC vs ZIP” Compression War

I think most computer users have no idea where ZIP files came from, the terrible war behind the ZIP standard we know today, and how it evolved.

It’s chronicled in an incredible documentary called “BBS:  The Documentary”.For those of you who didn’t get to see this amazing documentary, (I ordered it as soon as I heard about it) it’s really, really good. If you were at all part of the “BBS revolution” back in the 80s, you’ll really smile when you see some of the topics they go over like Fidonet, PCBoard, Mustang Software, 2600, X/Y/Zmodem, Operation Sundevil, etc. They even talk about Blue Boxes, Phrack Inc., and the FBI’s arrest of Knight Lightning.

($50 for a 5 disc DVD set)

Again, one of the stories is the epic battle between ARC and ZIP (aka SEA vs Phil Katz). The back story on this fight is a really interesting tale about intellectual property theft, smear campaigns, and ultimately things I didn’t know about that era until I saw it. Fortunately, Thom Henderson, one of the 3 people that made up SEA and the creator of ARC, was interviewed for the documentary and talked about the issues he had with Phil Katz (who BTW died in 2000) and the way things happened.

Thom Henderson also wrote a small story about his thoughts on the ARC vs ZIP battle and Phil Katz here:

Additionally, the ENTIRE video portion of the ARC vs ZIP documentary is available for download in .WMV in case you want to see what the 3 DVD disc set of “BBS: The Documentary” is like. The video is 20 minutes long and certainly worth viewing for no other reason than personal education.

And if you were truly around during the early days of bulletin board systems when file swapping & FidoNet were the norm, you’ll likely think fondly of this time.


One Response to BBS: The Documentary & the “ARC vs ZIP” Compression War

  1. […] I love documentaries and one of my favorite documentaries of all time was called BBS The Documentary by Jason Scott.  It was a MASSIVE 3 disc DVD set.  I wrote about it back in April 2007 on my personal blog here: […]

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