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A Brief History of oberhumer.com

oberhumer.com was founded by Markus Franz Xaver Johannes Oberhumer, who had been writing his first compression algorithms (actually some RLE variants) in Z80 assembly language on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum back in 1983.

Some years after, while at University in 1987, the first compression library bitpack saw the light of day. It could best be described as a simple semi-static prefix code algorithm with hardcoded paths. In retrospect, the programming language used (Modula-2, a descendant of Pascal) was clearly not the best choice, but working C compilers were rare at that time.

Early 1990, an executable packer for the Atari ST called mfxpak was finished (using an improved LZSS variant, this time coded in Turbo C). Not too many people got hold of this masterpiece as in those days programs were exchanged on floppy diskettes by purely physical means.

The very first version of the NRV compression library was actually coded sometime around 1993. Since then, it has been fully rewritten eight times, now in a completely generic programming style using a huge number of C++ template classes. For embedded systems it can get translated into ANSI C by a special compiler frontend.

The next milestones include LZO (started 1994, rewritten 1996), lzop (started 1996, released 1997), UPX (1998, GNU GPL release 2000) and UCL (2000).

Since then we have gone a long way, culminating in the design and implementation of one of the on-board lossless data compressors of the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers and NASA Mars Science Laboratory (aka Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity) which successfully landed on Mars in Jan 2004 and Aug 2012. As you probably will imagine it is a very exciting feeling to realize your software is transmitting signals from far space.

Finally we have always had a great commitment to the OpenSource community, contributing major projects. And, of course, nowadays we are happy to make our living with our fine products and services, including our stunning LZO Professional technology which is pushing real-time data (de-)compression to new limits.

 


Space-Grade Technology


oberhumer.com has designed and implemented one of the on-board lossless data compressors of the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, better known under the names Spirit and Opportunity.