'So my first question is: what is a CD-Rom?'

They're not just for storing Delia Smith recipes and playing games

Cecile Darroll works as an environmental protection team leader in a London borough. She, like many people, is confused about computers and especially about CD-Roms. Steve Homer invited her for a chat.

Cecile: We have a CD-Rom at work, but only one person knows how to use it. So the first question is: what is a CD-Rom?

Steve: A CD-Rom is a disc that stores data on it. That data can be anything. It can be a program like Microsoft Word, or photographs, or moving images, or it can be a lot of text: it could be all the legal precedents relating to your work.

Cecile: How does it differ from the hard disk in my PC?

Steve: In a way, it doesn't. The CD-Rom stores the data in exactly the same format as the other disks - the bits and bytes are exactly the same.

Physically, however, a CD-Rom is very different to a hard drive, which uses magnetic recording in the same way as a video or cassette recorder, except the data is recorded on rapidly spinning discs, not on tape. A CD-Rom stores data in the same way as an audio CD: through tiny pits on the disc and a laser shining on them to read the data.

Cecile: So is it quicker then?

Steve: No, but it is a lot cheaper. A typical hard disk sold today will store 500Mb to 1,000Mb. A CD-Rom will store over 600Mb. The difference is that a hard disk will cost between pounds 150-pounds 400, while a CD-Rom disc will cost perhaps a 10th of that. But you will need a CD-Rom drive to play CD-Roms and that will set you back about pounds 100.

Cecile: That still sounds quite cheap.

Steve: Ah, but what you can't do with a CD-Rom is record data. You can't store your own files, as you can on a hard disk, unless you have a recordable CD-Rom drive.

Cecile: How much do they cost?

Steve: Anything from pounds 700 to pounds 1,500. But you also have to buy special blank discs, which cost about pounds 5. Then you can build your own library of files.

Cecile: Why do people have CD-Rom machines at home? To have Delia Smith recipes and games and so on?

Steve: Yes. Most people buy CD-Rom discs for games, encyclopaedias, reference works and all sorts of software titles that are really rather fun.

Cecile: So did games come out years ago on CD-Rom? And when were CD- Roms invented?

Steve: Games used to be released on floppy disks.

Cecile: They went out with the Ark.

Steve: No, they are still useful for storing data and they are fine for most computing jobs. But you can only store 1.4Mb compared to over 600Mb on a CD-Rom, which means you can include more photographs, sound and movies, all of which take up a lot of disk space. As to age, CD-Roms have been around for about 10 years but they have only taken off in the past two or three years.

Cecile: Why?

Steve: It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. The discs were expensive and the drives, too. As the two got cheaper, more people bought them, and as more people bought them they got even cheaper.

Cecile: So, is there anything in the pipeline to replace it?

Steve: Well, at the end of this year or the beginning of next, a new type of disc capable of storing 13 times as much data as a CD-Rom goes on the market.

The discs will probably be very expensive to start off with so you should not be put off buying a CD-Rom drive if you need one now. But these new discs are definitely the thing of the future and in a few years' time everyone will be using these so-called DVD-Rom devices. The good news is you will still be able to play your existing CD-Roms on the new drives.

Suggested Topics
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

    £30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

    £300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

    Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn