The History of Digital Digest Part 1: DVD Digest

While we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Digital Digest, I thought it would be interesting if I wrote a brief history of the site. Some of what I will post will be common knowledge, some will be revealed for the first time.

The very first version of Digital Digest, note the Asus V3400 reference

The very first version of Digital Digest, note the Asus V3400 reference

It is worth noting again that Digital Digest is really a collection of many different websites that I have developed over the last 10 years. The very first of these websites was a Geocities (and Tripod) hosted website called DVDigest. It was still relatively early days for the Internet, and the boom was underway. Free web hosting was all the rage, and Geocities and Tripod were amongst the leaders. You get something like 15 MB of space and some unspecified bandwidth limit, for hosting static HTML pages and images, which was plentiful back then. And when you do go over the bandwidth limit, you can always open another free account – to solve the problem of ever changing URLs, you used redirect services like (so you would have something like, which would direct to whichever free account that was still active back then). Now, this was a time of venture capitalists going crazy and IPOs popping up all over the place, so in comparison, DVDigest was pretty amateur. Even for the amateurs.

But it was noob time for most people back then, before the word “noob” was even invented. My interests back then, being the nerd that I am, was to go to newsgroups and help people with their DVD playback problems. I was one of the few that jumped on to the doomed VCD bandwagon (having purchased a hardware MPEG-1 decoder card at great cost), and my interests naturally flowed onto this new format called DVD. Playing DVDs on your PC back then is  like trying to play games at 2560×1600 resolution today. With 8xAA and 16x AF. In other words, stutter city was the name of the game. That is unless you had some sort of graphics card that could accelerate DVD playback (or a dedicated hardware MPEG-2 decoder card). The graphics card I had back then was the  Asus V3400, part of Nvidia’s Riva TNT family. Despite the marketing, it did not have DVD acceleration and playback was, well, awful. Software based DVD decoders were still in their early days back then, and it took a great deal of tweaking before you could get acceptable framerates on an Intel Celeron 333a. The experience I gained from helping people play DVDs is what led me to write up a few webpages and open a site called DVDigest, which quickly became DVD Digest because people were a bit confused at the name (and they still are – “Digest” reads as in Reader’s Digest, and not as in “digest food”, BTW).

This went on, and more content was added. There were a few new things coming out back then that were quite exciting (for a nerd like me). Talks of doing the impossible and somehow copying the copy protected DVD to your hard-drive, that is if you had a hard-drive big enough. The very first “ripper”, if I can remember, was all about using PowerDVD’s screen capture facility and capturing everything frame by frame. People might as well have pointed a video camera at their TV for all the good that it did (no sound until further processing!) , but at least the process path was all digital. There as also this thing called DivX ; -) – which allowed you to make high quality videos (even better than VCD!) at maybe only a tenth of the space. It was an exciting time.

DeCSS: Who knew such a small program could cause so much trouble ...

DeCSS: Who knew such a small program could cause so much trouble ...

It was still late 1999 when I was approached by a company, which shall remain nameless (and actually I can’t remember their name anyway), that offered to help me host my fledgling website, which had already grown too p0pular to be hosted on a 15 MB free webspace deal (shocking, I know). I was to get a part of the advertising money, and they would do all the hosting. They even kindly purchased the domain name (don’t bother hurrying over to whois the name, it’s owned by different people now, I think), which was perhaps not as kind as I had believed, naive as I was. All went pretty smoothly until the said company received legal documents which suggested that the rippers I was hosting was not entirely legal. The infamous DVD CCA vs DeCSS case had started. It doesn’t really matter now that the court eventually ruled in favour of the defendants, but I’m sure it was scary for the company that hosted DVD Digest (and owned the domain name to boot). And they took what was in their eyes not only the right action, but the only action, which was to “Shut It Down!”. I was on vacation and away from the Internet at that time (hard to believe that being away from the Internet is actually possible these days, I know) and I did not find out until a week or two after the fact. It wasn’t good news for DVD Digest.

So I had to start from scratch again in the fake new millennium (2000), this time with the domain name, even though the site was still called DVD Digest back then. And start again I did. The year 2000 was a great one for DVD Digest, despite the soon bursting of the Internet bubble. It was then that I turned what was really a hobby into a business of sorts, and of course, the DVD industry made huge strides in those few years which was helpful for a website that relied on more and more people wondering why they’re only getting 15 FPS from the DVDs on their PCs.

The DVD Digest name continued to be used for many years, with Digital Digest eventually taking over as the official name of the website, but by then there were other sites part of the Digital Digest network called DivX Digest and DVD±R Digest, but that’s a story for part 2 and 3 of The History of Digital Digest.

To be continued in part 2 …


One Response to “The History of Digital Digest Part 1: DVD Digest”

  1. Douglas Barr Says:

    Keep up the history. Remember DVDigest from the early days when I was running a Socket 462 AMD Thoroughbred 2000 and using a DVD 8300 MpegII
    Playback Card (the one you connected to your Graphics card by an external; cable and then connected your monitor to the Playback card) It came with Startrek
    First Contact Screen saver all on CD.


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