Business card CD-ROM (1998 – )

Shaped Compact Discs first appeared in the mid-1990s, the first being The Flaming Lips CD single entitled ‘This Here Giraffe’ released in 1996.

Business card size (or credit card size) CD-ROMs followed from around 1998 and were produced by several companies in both the US and Europe. They are generally 80mm wide, and between 58 and 68mm long. They may be rectangular, or may be rounded off to a similar size as the Mini CD.

Capacity is a lot less than that of full-size CD-ROMs, somewhere between 30 and 100 MB, but for the purpose they were originally intended, as an enhanced form of business card, or for distributing company information like annual reports and promotional material, this was sufficient.

They will play in most Compact Disc drives, using the smaller recess on tray-loading drives. They won’t work in slot-loading drives.

A particular type of business card CD-ROM was known as the bootable business card (BBC), and generally contained a distribution of Linux that a computer could be booted from.

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Blu-ray Disc (2006 – )

Blu-ray Disc is an optical disk format for high-definition video. The standard was developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (a consortium of companies, including Sony) and was released in 2006.

The discs themselves are the same size as DVD (120mm), but are capable of storing 25 GB per layer, with dual-layer discs being the industry standard for movies on Blu-ray Disc. Mini Blu-ray Discs (80mm) are also available, similar to MiniDVD.

Information is stored at a much higher density than DVD due to the use of blue lasers.

From its introduction until 2008, Blu-ray competed with HD-DVD, which was launched a few months prior to Blu-ray. By as early as January 2007, Blu-ray was outselling HD-DVD, helped by Sony including Blu-ray Disc support in the PlayStation 3.

As well as motion pictures, Blu-ray is used for distributing games for consoles such the Sony PlayStation 3 and 4, and the Xbox One, and recordable (BD-R) and rewritable versions (BD-RE) are also available for data or video storage. In 2013, High Fidelity Pure Audio was launched, using audio-only Blu-ray Discs.

Blu-ray Disc titles usually ship in packages similar to but slightly smaller than a standard DVD case, with the format prominently displayed across the top of the case. Some Blu-ray Discs come packaged with a DVD version of the film, as well as digital copies that can be played on computers.

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CD-ROM postage stamps (2008 – 2009)

In 2008, the Kingdom of Bhutan released a set of two CD-ROM postage stamps, in partnership with Creative Products International. These were 80mm CD-ROMs containing video content, with the titles ‘100 Years of Monarchy’ and ‘In Harmony With Nature’.

A second series of stamps were issued in 2009 and consisted of ‘Voting for Happiness’ and ‘Coronation’.

These were the first ever CD-ROM postage stamps, and Bhutan had previously been the first country to issue phonograph postage stamps in 1973.

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DVD-RAM (1998 – mid 2000s)

DVD-RAM (DVD–Random Access Memory) was an optical disk format used in computers, set-top box recorders and camcorder, and was first introduced in 1998.

It was a rewritable format and competed with DVD-RW and DVD+RW. Its data structure was similar to a hard disk, and discs could be rewritten 100,000 times, 100 times more than either DVD-RW or DVD+RW. Like other rewriteable DVD formats, DVD-RAM used phase change recording, in which varying laser intensities cause targeted areas in the phase change recording layer to alternate between an amorphous and a crystalline state.

A DVD-RAM disc can be identified by many small rectangles distributed on the surface of the data carrier. These rectangles constitute the hard sectoring of the disc.

DVD-RAM double-sided disks could store 9.4 GB. Smaller 80mm discs were also available with a capacity of 2.8 GB, but these were uncommon.

DVD-RAM discs originally came in a protective caddy, but later DVD recorders could work with discs either with or without cartridge, and many devices did not work with caddies. The discs themselves could be removed from the caddy if necessary.

The website of the RAM Promotion Group ceased sometime around 2008 and the format is now obsolete.

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Nintendo GameCube (2002 – 2007)

The Nintendo GameCube was a sixth-generation video game console introduced in 2001 in Japan and the US (it became available in Europe in 2002) and was the successor to the Nintendo 64. It was the first console in Nintendo’s history not to offer a Mario platform title at launch.

The GameCube was Nintendo’s first console to move away from cartridge-based media altogether, although Nintendo had previously experimented with other storage technologies (namely the Famicom Disk System, and the 64DD).

The GameCube discs were designed by Panasonic, and were a proprietary version of the miniDVD format with a different encryption system to prevent copying. As a result of the use of smaller size discs, the standard system couldn’t play DVD-Video or Compact Discs. GameCube discs had a capacity of 1.5 GB which meant some larger games had to be spread over two discs.

Reception of the GameCube was mixed, but it sold approximately 22 million units and more than 600 games were released for the GameCube before it was discontinued in 2007. Its successor, the Wii, was released in 2006.

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CD-ROM (1985 – )

CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory) is an optical disc format created by Sony and Philips and introduced in 1985 as the first extension of the Compact Disc format.

It is most commonly used to distribute software and video games, and is a read-only format (CD-R and CD-RW were introduced later as writeable formats). In the 1990s, the CD-ROM rapidly replaced the 3.5-inch floppy disk for software distribution. In recent years, the use of CD-ROM has declined as more software is distributed over the internet.

CD-ROM discs are physically identical to Compact Discs, only differing in the way data is stored on them, and like Compact Discs, can come in different sizes (such as 80mm Mini CD, and business card sizes). Full-size CD-ROM discs can store up to 737 MB of data. CD-ROM drive speeds are rated with a speed factor relative to audio CDs.

Early CD-ROM drives used a caddy that the disc had to be placed in before placing in the drive.

CD-ROM XA (eXtended Architecture) is a variation introduced in 1991 that allows for data, audio, and video to be accessed on the same disk.

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Preservation / Migration

Although the media is relatively stable, the software contained on the discs may not run on modern operating systems

Mini CD single (1988 – early 1990s)

The mini Compact Disc single (mini CD single) was an optical disc format for music singles based on the Compact Disc. Mini CD singles are 3-inches in diameter, compared to full-size CD singles which are the same size as standard CDs, 5-inches. Because of this, mini CD singles are sometimes known as CD3s).

They can be played in most devices that can play standard CDs, with the exception of slot-loading drives. Some CD players require an adapter to play mini CD singles.

The format was first released in the UK in 1988, and most mini CD singles contained at least two tracks, in the same way as 7-inch vinyl singles.

Mini CD singles meet the Red Book standard for Compact Discs, but store less data (about 21-24 minutes maximum).

The format lasted into the early 1990s in the UK, when most CD singles were released on full-size CDs as they were cheaper to manufacture due to their standard size.

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