OpenGL is a graphics library that was created in the early '90s as a premptive strike against the world of gaming. It is used for everything from games to the very desktop environments of some computers. Its primary competitor is DirectX, made by Microsoft. In truth, OpenGL wasn't really made by anybody, as it just sort of came out of nowhere when Silicon Graphics was spitting out monitors. It is now under the control of Kronos Group, who are tasked with the ambitious project of revolutionizing gaming with WebGL.
OpenGL is currently at version 4.2, which is magically irrelevant to most OpenGL developers, who prefer to work with 1.0 and 1.1. Why? Microsoft is continually updating their own graphics library, DirectX, and therefore have no interest in supporting OpenGL, meaning that version 1.1 (released in 1997) is as up-to-date as you're going to get, unless you download the latest graphics drivers from ATI.
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