Toronto Mike

The Rise and Fall of RealAudio


It's been 30 years since the Jonestown massacre.  That got me interested in learning more about the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project formed by followers of the Reverend Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.  That led me to NPR Online where you can listen to a great doc entitled "Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown."

You can stream the audio, but it's in RealAudio.  That's right, it's in RealAudio.  When I saw that, I had a very webby flashback.

In the mid 90s, lots of audio required the RealPlayer.  Most of us downloaded the RealPlayer just so we could listen to .ra files.  At a time when WinAmp was my music player of choice, RealPlayer quickly became a necessary evil.

Firstly, they made it near impossible to find the free version.  That download page was a serious pain in the ass.  Then, there was this terrible interface, even for the mid to late 90s.  Then, there were those bloody pop-ups.  At one point several years ago, I swore I would never install RealPlayer again.

I've kept that promise, and that means I won't be streaming this Jonestown doc on NPR Online.  That's a shame, but at least I enjoyed this webby trip down memory lane.

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