Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
ZIP (file format)
The ZIP file format was originally created by Phil Katz, founder of PKWARE. Katz publicly released technical documentation on the ZIP file format, along with the first version of his PKZIP archiver, in January 1989.
Katz had copied ARC and converted the compression routines from C to optimised assembler code, which made it much faster. SEA initially tried to license Katz's archiver, called PKARC, but Katz refused. SEA then sued Katz for copyright infringement and won.
During settlement, Katz still refused to license PKARC to SEA, instead agreeing to pay SEA's legal fees and stop selling PKARC. He then went on to create his own file format PKZIP, and the .ZIP format he designed was a much more efficient compression format than .ARC. Once PKZIP was released, many users abandoned .ARC because of its slower performance and because Katz had successfully convinced them that he was the "good guy" being unfairly treated by an evil corporation.
New versions of Mac OS X include ZIP support built right into the Finder, making it the "official" compression format for Macs. However, most Mac files are still compressed with Stuffit or, increasingly, tarballs.
- Ben Baker remembers Phil Katz
- Thom Henderson's opinion of Phil Katz
- Technical specifications of the PKZIP file formats
- Original specification for the first version of the format
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