Site History

The Digital BitsSite editor Bill Hunt began The Digital Bits as an online newsletter in April of 1997, as a consumer, enthusiast, and industry clearinghouse for information about the then-new DVD format. In response to high demand for the newsletter, The Digital website was officially launched on December 15, 1997. In the nearly two decades since, The Digital Bits has come to be regarded by enthusiasts and entertainment industry professionals (including filmmakers, studio and consumer electronics executives, and special edition producers) as a leading source of reliable information about Blu-ray, DVD, and other home entertainment formats, including streaming, digital downloads, and lossless audio.

The Bits is the oldest continuously operating DVD information website on the Internet. The site gave the world its first detailed look at the now infamous DIVX pay-per-view disc format in 1998 and then led the effort to oppose it. It’s helped to bring many films to Blu-ray and DVD, and long been a champion of film restoration and preservation. In the early days of DVD, The Bits worked behind-the-scenes with the Hollywood studios to promote the use of the format’s anamorphic widescreen capabilities. The site was also instrumental in giving home video enthusiasts their first news of both the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats, then championed the effort to encourage Hollywood to unite behind a single high-definition format. What’s more, Bits editor Bill Hunt correctly predicted the winners of both videodisc format wars (DVD and Blu-ray) from the very beginning, advising Bits readers on how to get the most enjoyment from each while protecting them from wasting money on formats that later failed (DIVX and HD-DVD).

   The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD    Bill Hunt's presentation at Blu-Con 2010

In October 2003, The Digital Bits: Insider’s Guide to DVD was published in conjunction with McGraw Hill. The 432-page book was designed to serve both as a beginner’s guide to the DVD format, as well as a handy reference work for more experienced fans. It covered the ins and outs of the format in easy to understand language, offered tips on building a good home theater on a budget, offered a look behind the scenes on the making of 20th Century Fox’s Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set, and reviewed over a hundred of the best DVD special editions then released. Hailed by both critics and consumers alike, the book was ranked in Amazon’s top 100 sales chart within a week of its debut, for a time outselling even The Bible and The Lord of the Rings, and is now available digitally in Kindle format.

The Digital Bits has been referenced by such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune, Wired, Time, Newsweek, the USA Today, Businessweek, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter. The Bits has been quoted on CNN, ZDTV, MSNBC, ZDNet, TechWeb, and G4’s Attack of the Show, as well as in national ad campaigns from 20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros and other studios, and by thousands of newspapers and online websites. The Digital Bits was chosen as one of the Top 5 DVD Sites in 1999 by E! Online, was voted a Number One site in the Internet Top 100, and has been recommended by PC World magazine as one of “50 Really Useful Websites for Really Busy People. Entertainment Weekly even named The Digital Bits one of their 25 Favorite Online Entertainment Sites for 2006, alongside Ain’t It Cool News, the IMDB, and The Onion.

The Digital Bits at Comic-Con

Digital Bits staff writers have long offered readers a wealth of writing experience (books, novels, magazine, and screenplays), as well as extensive film history and industry experience and perspective. In addition to their disc and film release news and reviews, The Bits staff regularly publishes in-depth articles, columns, and retrospectives on film-related topics, as well as interviews with industry insiders and directors (including David Fincher, William Friedkin, John Landis, and Baz Luhrmann). The Bits also hosts an annual discussion panel at San Diego Comic-Con where some of the leading names in Blu-ray and DVD production can share their insights with fans. Bits editor Bill Hunt studied under the acclaimed film historian David Bordwell, is a novelist, screenwriter, and industrial video producer/director, and has contributed to Widescreen Review, Home Media Retailing, and Geek Monthly. He also consults with the Hollywood studios and the consumer electronics industry on home video-related issues and speaks at industry conferences. Todd Doogan works at Adult Swim, was a featured video reviewer for TNT’s Rough Cut website, and has contributed to Computer Power User and Adam Jahnke wrote and produced content for Troma, and has written two books for Lloyd Kauffman including Make Your Own Damn Movie! and The Toxic Avenger: The Novel. Barrie Maxwell and Michael Coate are both widely regarded film historians, the latter also a longtime Widescreen Review columnist. Bud Elder served as the Oklahoma Film Commissioner, is a radio host, and film industry insider. And occasional contributor Robert A. Harris is one of the leading film preservation experts in the world, having personally restored such classics as Lawrence of Arabia, Vertigo, and many others.

What all of this means is that, for nearly twenty years, from laserdisc to DVD, from Blu-ray Disc to Blu-ray 3D, from 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray to streaming, digital downloads, and beyond, The Digital Bits has been – and will continue to be – an invaluable online resource for film fans, home theater enthusiasts, entertainment industry professionals, and anyone interested in enjoying great film and TV content both at home and on the go.

Old Digital Bits logos

Bill Hunt, Todd Doogan, and Adam Jahnke with Bob and Kathy Burns