#atozchallenge: Codec

codec =
coder + decoder


I don’t do much with media, although I find myself more concerned with it the more blogging I do. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but there were times in the early days where I would try to play something (audio or video) on the computer, and I’d get a message telling me that I had a “bad or missing codec.” The first time I saw the message, I did what anyone in the computer business for as many years as I was in it would do: growl “What The F…” and go out to Yahoo! (Google hadn’t been invented yet) and try to figure out what a codec was, how I could figure out which one I was missing, and, most importantly, where I could find the one I needed, preferably at no cost. As was usually the case, they couldn’t just come out and say which one I needed for what I was trying to play, so I’d have to read through all this highly technical documentation, wondering why I hadn’t become an electrical engineer like my Mom wanted and cursing those I knew who were EE’s (sorry, Mark), just to figure out if what I was downloading the right thing and how to install the darn thing. Sometimes, I’d get it right on the first try, and go out to boast to Mary about it, who would smile and say “you’re so smart.”

Anyhow, a codec is a piece of hardware or software that takes an analog signal and turns it into a digital stream which can then be captured in a file and stored on a hard drive. That’s the “co” in “codec”; when you want to play that file, the “dec” part takes over and changes it back into an analog signal, such as the song I’m listening to now, Chicago’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” from their sixth album, strangely named Chicago VI. In my case, the files I’m playing are stored on Amazon’s cloud and the codec resides in a directory on my computer. At least I think so.

I could go into detail about this, but I’ll spare you. I promised I’d keep these short. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

So, did you read up on it?


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

38 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: Codec”

    1. Good enough! They’ve pretty well got all the ones they need by now, anyway, and they’re usually delivered with the computer. But, in case you see a message pop up, it’s good to understand.


  1. I remember seeing that word along the way, but never knew what it meant. I tended to ignore all things computer until the mid-90s, when I discovered how much I could learn online while sitting at home! But I’m still ignorant about how these computers work, unless, of course, I want to make it do something specific as part of my blog– then I learn all about it.


    1. That’s what I’ve done. I learned a lot by simulcasting the blog on Blogger, mostly about writing “agnostic” blog posts (ones that rely as little as possible on style sheets unavailable on one platform or another).


  2. An ability to simplify the complex is a gift. 2. Great song choice. 3. Part of me wanted to imagine a miniature jukebox in my laptop.

    Glad I found you through the A to Z Challenge.

    Eli@CoachDaddy (#1238)


  3. Such an interesting new word/concept I learned from reading your post! Thanks for sharing. I didn’t get a chance to look it up yet, but I intend to! Great post!


    1. One of those things you shouldn’t have to even think about. I was just saying to someone that you used to need a different player for every different kind of media. Now, practically all of them have all the codecs you need, and one player can handle practically everything. VLC is almost everything you need anymore.


    1. VLC is great. It’s like the Swiss Army knife of multimedia software. Don’t know what will play something? VLC will get you close. Before, you needed a separate player for everything; now, it’s all you need. AND IT’S FREE!


  4. Now that you’ve revealed the secret of codec, I must know if such an entomology exists for Felica Day’s “Codex” because that’s one letter away…
    J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge – where I am part of Arlee Bird’s A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I’m excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There’s a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.


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