QT 1.0 was really a product of a project that Apple took on in 1987 called 'Pencil Test'. The mission was simple: produce a broadcast-quality 3D animated movie entirely on Macs. There were a few obstacles: personal computers had never done it before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXPHlQuXWR0
There's little point in comparing QT with other container formats because they simply didn't exist at the time and almost none of them make any attempt to do anything other than playback. Pretty much every decent (i.e. not AVI) container format since has followed QT's basic design (MPEG-4, Matroska).
QuickTime Player (up to 7.x) on Mac OS was one of the most underrated apps ever - it had comprehensive multitrack editing with as many simultaneous video/audio/text/arbitrary data tracks as you like, codec/frame-rate/colour-depth/sample-rate conversions, variable frame rates, timecode support, live arbitrary scaling, skewing and rotation, real-time audio mixing and eq, colour correction, video and audio effects, simple non-destructive copy/paste editing and compositing of video (without recompression). All this from an app that many thought was an equivalent of dumb playback-only apps like WinAmp and Windows Media Player.
QT completely dominated the world of digital editing for a long time, mainly because it was (is?) the only viable interchange format, and because of the massive array of applications and codecs that supported it. There have probably been very few movies made in the last 20 years that have not involved QT at some stage of production.
QT for Windows was always the runt of the litter - I know, I was Apple UK's QT for Windows support guy in 93/94. Much of this was down to the fact that QT depended heavily on the rest of Mac OS, so QT for Windows incorporated ports of large chunks of Mac OS, which made it very big and didn't really fit on top of Windows APIs very nicely. All the nice things like the Mac Sound Manager were severely hampered by Windows' dismal media support at the time (such as lack of sample-rate conversion and inter-app sound mixing). On top of that, there were of course almost no video apps for Windows save for playback; There was simply no market for professional video software on Windows back then.
While QuickTime's open file format was the basis for the MPEG-4 file format, much of the promise of QT was lost in translation - we're still waiting for all those MPEG-4 part 10 authoring apps. HyperCard was supposed to become QT's interaction layer, but that never got off the ground, and we all ended up with Flash instead (which QT could play to some extent too).
Apple pretty much gave up on promoting professional use of QT after 7.0. QT X has been relegated to being an iTunes appendage and headed off into playback-only land, and is no longer interesting. QT was so unbelievably good at what it did that it's almost criminal that Apple starved it of attention; it would have been great to see it spun out. Many of the things that made QT such a great authoring container have been lost, and the world of video is sadly retreating back to proprietary formats.