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Today, we have all sorts of video formats, starting from your MP4 files and your DVD collection. But, even though there are a lot of video formats out there, there is one, which is known to everybody and which is almost synonymous with video itself - AVI.

AVI history

The AVI (short for Audio Video Interleave) first saw the light of day in 1992, when it was released as part of the Video for Windows (VfW) project. The aim of this project was to add digital video playback to the Windows operating system. It was first released as an add-on for Windows 3.1 and since then has become a bundled part of every new Windows distribution.

The role of the AVI was to be the file container for this new framework. In the beginning, video clips were of small resolution and quality (320 x 240 pixels and with a maximum of 30 frames per second). With the development of the Video for Windows framework, the AVI file format was also updated and by 1996, AVI files were using a new file format extension developed by the Maxtor OpenDML group, which is unofficially known as AVI 2.0.

AVI files online

AVI files have been used since 1992 for watching video clips and were there when the Internet became a major factor in everyone's life. And with the World Wide Web getting more and more popular, it was only time until video sharing was introduced.

However, the AVI files were never intended to be shared online. Compared to more modern formats like MP4, AVI files are significantly larger in size and an AVI collection requires much more disk space. Plus, they do not support B-Frames and don't offer pixel ratio information. They are also hard on the CPU usage. This is why, when video sharing was first introduced, the files shared online were of very poor quality, in order to reduce the traffic needed by the user and the server's CPU usage.

Most AVI files were stored online and were available for download, instead of for video streaming.

AVI files today

Even though the AVI container format is 15 years old, it's still one of the most widely spread video formats. This is largely due to the support by the Windows Media Player, the fact that AVI files are included in Windows, and the support from a lot of video editing programs, such as Virtual Dub. They make this file format popular among record enthusiasts, who want to additionally enhance their video files.

A lot of video players and decoders have helped AVI files to overcome their age and compete with most of the modern video formats.