Special Report on Multimedia: Discs at the heart of a revolution: Patrick Gibbins examines the developments that are changing personal computing
Tuesday 13 October 1992
The low cost storage capacity of compact disc combined with the power of modern personal computers has created a new medium for communication. Compact Disc Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) can be used to distribute large volumes of data in a form which can be instantly accessed by personal computer users.
A single disc can store over 550 million bytes (megabytes) of data. This is equivalent to 300,000 pages of printed text. It costs between pounds 1 and pounds 3 to replicate a CD-ROM disc, making it cheaper to distribute large quantities of data on disc than on any other media. The format of CD-ROM discs is standardised, which means that any player connected to a standard PC can read any disc.
The fact that CD-ROM technology is based on CD audio technology ensures the economies of scale in manufacturing which are necessary to keep down the cost of manufacturing drives and discs. But because CD audio technology was not engineered for fast access, early CD-ROM drives suffered from performance limitations. In the last few months several manufacturers have announced a new generation of 'double speed' drives which are capable of delivering the performance necessary for rapid transfer of data intensive information from the disc to the memory of the PC.
Improvements in drive performance, combined with dramatic progress in compression technology, mean that it is now possible to play quite acceptable digital motion video directly from a CD-ROM, without the addition of expensive hardware on the PC. Two further innovations have served to extend the capabilities of CD-ROM technology. CD-ROM Extended Architecture (CD ROM-XA) allows different types of data to be 'interleaved' on the disc. Interleaving is necessary to achieve synchronisation between pictures and audio played off the disc.
The second key technical innovation is Kodak's Photo CD, which is designed to record and store digital images at full photographic quality. It provides computer users with an easy and affordable way of transferring photographic images off film and on to the PC where they can be cropped, edited and combined with standard computer applications.
Life & Style blogs
GTA 5 Online DLC: San Andreas Flight School update brings 16-seater jet plane and more
What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
Common antibiotic linked to increased risk of heart disease
Karl Lagerfeld shoots Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst in suspenders for fashion shoot
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
- 4 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 5 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits, Training & Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# S...
£250 per day: Orgtel: Network Engineer (CCNP), Cisco Gold Partner, Farnborough...
£250 - £300 per day: Orgtel: Senior Network Integration/Test Engineer Berkshir...
£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...