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History Of Customization



The skinning movement as we know it begins somewhere back in 1997 when Fli7e discovered that he could “reshack” the WinAMP interface with his own bitmaps to create a new look for the MP3 player. When Nullsoft (makers of WinAmp) noticed these reshacked versions they released a WinAmp version with extracted, easily changeable graphics. And from that day forth this was called skinning. The term skin comes from the skins used for characters in Quake and the like.

Other Skinnable Media Players Appear

In the MP3 player space, several alternatives to WinAmp appeared such as K-Jofol, Soritong and WPlay all supporting skins in varying levels of complexity. Sonique was the most successful of these alternatives, and featured a fully skinnable, fluid, windowless interface with animated menu systems. The Museum of Sonique has screenshots of all the old versions of Sonique.

Skinning broadens

WindowBlinds, Litestep, DesktopX, IconPackager.


The Digideck Archive was the first ever skin site, created by Gllen to host skins for the Digideck CD Player. This site would later become Customize.org, which first opened its doors back in 1998. At first the only skinnable applications around were Winamp and Digideck. Over time more skinnable apps appeared and were added to the site, with the custo forum serving as the hub for the skinning community.

Dot Com Era

ChangeMusic buys Custo, eFront buys Skinz, Deskmod, Screenphuck (>Deviant Art), Stardock/Wincustomize etc.

History of Skinz

Interview with Gorman about Deskmod

History of DeviantART: Part 1, Part 2

Stardock History of Customization

Custo for sale!

On September 14th 2000, after ChangeMusic had held onto customize for a year without developing the site any further (or fixing the bugs), a news post was made by “Sasie” with the news that custo was being put up for sale for the bargain price of half a million dollars!

Custo for sale! Post from admin All you who propose a willingness to purchase Customize.org now have a chance to prove that you’re not all talk. Custo is up for sale, with postings on Time-2-Sell.com and WebsiteBroker.com for the corporate price of $500,000. If you want to make an offer, or get a better deal, contact the seller (Tony) directly at [email protected] Serious bids only, please. Any questions should be directed to me at [email protected] Thanks for coming! —Sasie

Windows XP

The OS bundles its own basic skinning engine.

Professional skinners appear (Pixtudio, The Skins Factory, SkinPlant, etc.)

The Dot-Com Collapse

Deskmod closes, skinz deteriorates, custo development stalls, GSM etc…


New site, the future of customization (vista, widgets, greasemonkey etc)….