CHANGING TIMES: Nearly all laptops have dropped any sort of optical drive and most customers welcome the reduced weight or thinner laptop profile instead.
CHANGING TIMES: Nearly all laptops have dropped any sort of optical drive and most customers welcome the reduced weight or thinner laptop profile instead. oneinchpunch

TECH COLUMN: What is a CD-ROM?

WELCOME to another Saturday Byte Me Article. Most of these articles focus on new products and developments in the industry but for a twist today we will look at a slowly dying product: the venerable DVD-Rom, often referred to as the CD-ROM.

When introduced CDs took off quickly as a secure and portable way of keeping up to 640MB of data. Their flashy design and rainbow effect from light sources helped sell them to the public as the latest IT development. Also, users (although misinformed at the time) thought that a CD would last forever. In reality that forever can be less than 10 years!

This still surprises many but due to differing manufacturing processes a CD with a dozen or more songs, or 100 photos or (to borrow from a well-known movie) nuclear launch codes can have a useful life expectancy of less than 10 years.

Despite any shortcomings however, CDs revolutionised the way data was stored and shared. A few short years later we were also introduced to DVDs.

Promising around eight times as much data storage DVDs also grabbed a strangle- hold on the market and led this push with a guarantee of high-resolution movies which would otherwise not have fitted on a CD. The IT industry also responded quickly and supplied hardware that could read data and write data to either disk format.

All of this was referred to as optical technology and small lasers were employed to write information on to blank disk media and a lower powered laser was again used to read the information back.

Probably the fact that most amazed at the time was that you could make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy and the resulting disk would still be an exact duplicate of the original without any loss of quality.

This ability to precisely copy large quantities of data was unheard of in the previously widespread use of the cassette tape which lost a percentage of the original information each and every time a copy was made. A few years more and we were also introduced to another optical disk medium - the Blu-ray disk.

Blu-ray disks and players hit the market with near equal fanfare but were never as well received. Possibly people were over all the medium changes which also involved a change of disk player and greeted the new format with less enthusiasm. Unlike DVD players, Blu-ray players never became standard in desktop computers or laptops and from personal experience I know that only a handful of our customers ordered one.

Now we have even made the inclusion of a DVD-Rom an option in our latest desktop towers and barely 10 per cent leave the door with one.

Nearly all laptops have dropped any sort of optical drive and most customers welcome the reduced weight or thinner laptop profile instead.

In addition to the above, the cheapening price of USB storage sticks, external back-up drives and increasing monthly internet quotas is continuing to sound the death knell for all these optical devices.

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to bytemearticles @gmail.com and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave St or on 49 222 400.



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