Compact Disc Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) refers to a technology in which was used for a range of data types, such as text, graphics, audio, applications, photographs, and video.

Print vs. bytes.jpg
"Print vs. bytes" by Necessary Evil - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

CD-ROM evolved from the data storage capability of the Compact Disc. At it's time it was prized for its cheap reproduction and large storage capacity.

The CD-ROM became the media of choice for the distribution of multimedia and applications. At the time dial-up internet speeds couldn't handle the bandwidth demands of these resources so CD-ROMs became the main form of distribution. Their ubiquity of the format would only grow over time and the advent of "burnable" discs meant that discs could be created at home rather than pressed.

In education the CD-ROM was the format of choice for the distribution of digital resources - from PDF, text, HTML, video and images. They gave education providers and publishers a tangible product to sell and were vital in the adoption and provision of digital technlogy for distance education. They were also crucial to the development of rich media learning resources. The large capacity of the discs allowed the first rich media application that were widely accessible. Products like Encarta , a digital multimedia encyclopedia published by Microsoft Corporation from 1993, became widely adopted and used resources and exposed millions to the potential of these kinds of resources.

The CD-ROM was the first medium that allowed the burgeoning field of "multimedia" to expand and grow. Software such as Macromedia's Director and Flash grew out of the ability for the CD-ROM to handle the file sizes required to incorporate video, sound and animation.

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