Since filmmaking became an art, there have always been directors and producers whose work was demanded and anticipated on its own merits. The story, actors and other parts of the film were often secondary to the excitement among film lovers about the director's style itself. These directors, whose personal attention to detail and the process of filming make each film a recognizable part of a larger body of work, are known as auteurs.
D.W. Griffith, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles are a few examples of early auteurs. Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, Roman Polanski and Stephen Spielberg became popular in the '60s and '70s, along with James Cameron and Ron Howard in the late '70s.
It wasn't until the arrival of digital recordings, however, that casual viewers could enjoy these classic films with the extra materials we use to help understand the auteur's work. The digital revolution meant anyone could learn more about the filmmakers simply by purchasing or renting their films.
Younger filmmakers, like Quentin Tarantino, used the digital capacity of the DVD to create an auteur atmosphere by inviting viewers into their creative process through special features. While the auteur has always existed, it's only in the DVD era that his or her name has become just as important for the marketing of a film as any actor's.