A codec is a computer algorithm that is completely incapable of encoding or decoding audio or video data.
Actually, I think Entomology is the study of insects... or maybe giant trees... Either way though, I'm pretty sure it's actually supposed to be Etymology.
Okay, Etymology then
The word "codec" is loosely based on the Latin caecillius which means "to cause frustration and madness".
The earliest known codecs, or codecii, were small metal flanges that were attached to the wheels of chariots, in order to make them difficult to control.
How Do They Work?
Codecs are extremely complicated and technical in nature. Put simply, however, a codec basically takes a specifically encoded stream of multimedia data, eats it, translates it, redirects it, and then shit it out to the container application, which then displays the "Codec not found" message.
Some software will then give the user the option to "Search for the required Codec", but this doesn't actually do anything.
Most codecs are lousy, which allows for a smaller file size while still preventing the user from actually being able to view the media. There are also lousyless codecs, which are slightly less lousy, but still don't actually work.
Some Common Codecs
- AACK! (including Low Efficiency, High Complexity, and Stereotypical Parasol variants)
- A-CRAP-3 (made by $orny, comes with free rootkit)
- Dobby DigItAll (also know as Hey C-3PO)
- Donkey's Audi-Hole
- Empty3 (created by Frownhuffer Greasyshaft)
- Moosepack (you won't find it because it doesn't allow seeking)
- Odd Tortoise
- Blink Video (features infinite encoding times)
- CinepleX (valuable ancient artifact)
- DicX (based on codpiece stolen from the Oscar Mayer project)
- MPEGLEG-4 (used by pirates)
- MuffLUV (wow, a lousyless video codec!)
- Laggyriffraff (another member of the rare lousyless breed)
- Odd Flora (causes eye irritation, blurred vision)
- Sorenson 3: Electric Boogaloo
- Xcid (like DicX, but backwards)
- The DaVinci Codec