The Au file format is a simple audio file format introduced by Sun Microsystems. The format was common on NeXT systems and on early Web pages. Originally it was headerless, being simply 8-bit μ-law-encoded data at an 8000 Hz sample rate. Hardware from other vendors often used sample rates as high as 8192 Hz, often integer multiples of video clock signal frequencies. Newer files have a header that consists of six unsigned 32-bit words, an optional information chunk and then the data (in big-endian format).
Although the format now supports many audio encoding formats, it remains associated with the μ-law logarithmic encoding. This encoding was native to the SPARCstation 1 hardware, where SunOS exposed the encoding to application programs through the /dev/audio interface. This encoding and interface became a de facto standard for Unix sound.