A method and apparatus for compressing digital data that is represented as a sequence of characters drawn from an alphabet. An input data block is processed into an output data block composed of sections of variable length. Unlike most prior art methods which emphasize the creation of a dictionary comprised of a tree with nodes or a set of strings, the present invention creates its own pointers from the sequence characters previously processed and emphasizes the highest priority on maximizing the data rate-compression factor product. The use of previously input data acting as the dictionary combined with the use of a hashing algorithm to find candidates for string matches and the absence of a traditional string matching table and associated search time allows the compressor to very quickly process the input data block. Therefore, the result is a high data rate-compression factor product achieved due to the absence of any string storage table and matches being tested only against one string.