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Another LZ fan here.

My guess is that the "late" development of LZ is due to mainly two reasons:

i) At that moment the pattern matching algorithms were not so advanced. E.g. suffix tree was very recent, and in the next years lots of advances occurred in that area...

ii) Although LZ can appear easier or more intuitive than Huffman, I think it is much less intuitive to prove a good bound in the compression achieved by LZ. OTOH, Huffman is build in a way that shows that it achieves zeroth-order compression.

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