Philips and Sony collaborated in the 1980s to develop a digital optical data storage medium that can store and play digital audio recordings. The compact disc or CD was born in August 1982 as a result of this partnership. It became a popular storage medium in the 1900s to early 2000s until it was superseded by superior storage technologies.
Pros: The Advantages of Compact Disc
The compact disc was a groundbreaking storage medium because it disrupted several industries including the music recording industry, motion picture production, businesses involved in home video rentals, and even software development.
It replaced the cassette or magnetic tapes beginning in the latter part of the 1990s while also driving the extinction of Betamax and VHS tapes for audio-video playback beginning in the 2000s with the arrival of Video CD or VCD and Super Video CD or SVCD.
The compact disc also became a more popular and better storage device than the floppy disk for storing and installing software applications. It also ushered in a new era for video gaming as evidenced by the popularity of higher-end PC gaming and the PlayStation.
Below are the specific advantages of this digital optical data storage medium:
• Larger Capacity: One of the advantages of the compact disc compared to cassettes and floppy disks is its larger storage capacity. A single CD can hold 700 MB of data while a 3.5-inch floppy disk only has a storage capacity of between 800 KB to 2.8 MB.
• High Audio Quality: Record producers and studios soon turned to CDs to sell music. The medium has a wider dynamic range and low noise levels that result in clearer and more accurate sound reproduction than vinyl and cassette tapes.
• High Video Quality: A VCD has a lower resolution than VHS but it has better video quality because it stores digital video. A VHS tape has more noise and static because it has a lower signal-to-noise ratio.
• Multiple Applications: It is also versatile. The larger capacity of the compact disc was maximized for different applications beyond storing digital audio. CDs became a popular medium for distributing home videos, software programs, and video games.
• Random Access: Data written on a CD can be accessed with precision compared to data recorded on tapes. This random access allows users to select audio tracks, specific files or data, or navigate a menu through a user interface.
• Rewritable Formats: Another advantage of the compact disc is the availability of rewritable formats called CD-R and CD-RW. The commercial availability of these mediums made storage available for mass usage.
• More Convenient: CDs are easier to store and transport than vinyl and cassette tapes because they are more compact and lightweight. Note that a standard CD measures 4.7 inches across and is 1.2 millimeters thick.
Cons: The Disadvantages of Compact Disc
The popularity of compact discs also resulted in several drawbacks. Intellectual property infringement became rampant and uncontrollable due to the proliferation of pirated copies of audio recordings, videos, and software applications.
Producers and studios also started exploring music distribution through the internet. Digital music formats such as MP3 were becoming more popular even during the early 2000s. The trend was reinforced by the arrival of iTunes and iPods from Apple.
Furthermore, beginning around 2005, CDs started to become obsolete due to the arrival of Digital Video Disc or DVD as a better medium for distributing home videos. DVDs have larger storage capacity and offer higher audio and video quality.
The popularity of CDs waned further with disruptive trends. The capacities of hard disks expanded while becoming more cheaper. Mediums based on solid-state technology such as flash drives also became more accessible to mass consumers.
Below are the specific disadvantages of this digital optical data storage medium:
• Inferior Capacity: CDs might have larger storage capacity than their predecessors but succeeding storage mediums have larger capacities. A DVD can hold 4.7 GB to 8.5 GB of data while Blu-ray Disc can hold between 25GB to 128 GB.
• Older Technology: The limitation of a compact disc comes from its older read and write mechanism technology based on 780nm wavelength. Note that a Blu-ray Disc is based on a 405nm wavelength read and write mechanism.
• Inferior Quality: Note that DVDs and Blu-ray Discs can store audio-video files with higher audio and video qualities. A DVD can store 720p to 1080p movies while a Blu-ray Disc can store movies at UHD and 4K to 6K resolution.
• Durability Issues: A CD is more durable than magnetic tapes. But it is still fragile because it is susceptible to scratches if not handled properly. It can also warp and become unusable when exposed to extreme heat and humidity.
• Obsolete Medium: Another disadvantage of CDs is that they are now obsolete because of the availability of better storage mediums. Advancements in the internet have also made digital downloads and streaming a more ideal mode of distribution.
• Alternative Options: It is also important to note that compact discs are not ideal as backup storage due to their limited storage capacity, susceptibility to damage, and obsolescence. Hard drives and solid-state drives are preferred.