Compact disc (CD) is a digital optical disc data storage format. The format was originally developed to store and play only sound recordings (CD-DA), but was later adapted for storage of data (CD-ROM). Several other formats were further derived from these, including write-once audio and data storage (CD-R), rewritable media (CD-RW), Video Compact Disc (VCD), Super Video Compact Disc (SVCD), Photo CD, PictureCD, CD-i, and Enhanced Music CD. Audio CDs and audio CD players have been commercially available since October 1982.
Standard CDs have a diameter of 120 millimetres (4.7 in) and can hold up to about 80 minutes of uncompressed audio or 700 MiB (actually about 703 MiB or 737 MB) of data. The Mini CD has various diameters ranging from 60 to 80 millimetres (2.4 to 3.1 in); they are sometimes used for CD singles, storing up to 24 minutes of audio or delivering device drivers.
At the time of the technology's introduction, it had much greater capacity than computer hard drives common at the time. The reverse is now true, with hard drives far exceeding the capacity of CDs. The Compact Disc is an evolution of LaserDisc technology. Prototypes were developed by Philips and Sony independently from the mid-to-late 1970s. The two companies then collaborated to produce a standard format and related player technology which was made commercially available in 1982.
American inventor James T. Russell has been credited with inventing the first system to record digital information on an optical transparent foil which is lighted from behind by a high-power halogen lamp. Russell's patent application was first filed in 1966 and he was granted a patent in 1970.
In June 1985, the computer-readable CD-ROM (read-only memory) and, in 1990, CD-Recordable were introduced, also developed by both Sony and Philips. Recordable CDs are an alternative to tape for recording music and copying music albums without defects introduced in compression used in other digital recording methods. Other newer video formats such as DVD and Blu-ray use the same physical geometry as CD, and most DVD and Blu-ray players are backward compatible with Audio CD.
Diagram of CD layers.
A. A polycarbonate disc layer has the data encoded by using bumps.
B. A shiny layer reflects the laser.
C. A layer of lacquer protects the shiny layer.
D. Artwork is screen printed on the top of the disc.
E. A laser beam reads the CD and is reflected back to a sensor, which converts it into electronic data
By the early 2000s, the CD had largely replaced the audio cassette player as standard equipment in new automobiles, with 2010 being the final model year for any car in the US to have a factory-equipped cassette player. With the increasing popularity of portable digital audio players and solid state music storage, CD players are being phased out of automobiles in favor of minijack auxiliary inputs and connections to USB devices.
A CD is made from 1.2 millimetres (0.047 in) thick, polycarbonate plastic and weighs 15–20 grams. From the center outward, components are: the center spindle hole (15 mm), the first-transition area (clamping ring), the clamping area (stacking ring), the second-transition area (mirror band), the program (data) area, and the rim. The inner program area occupies a radius from 25 to 58 mm.
A thin layer of aluminium or, more rarely, gold is applied to the surface making it reflective. The metal is protected by a film of lacquer normally spin coated directly on the reflective layer. The label is printed on the lacquer layer, usually by screen printing or offset printing.
CD data is represented as tiny indentations known as "pits", encoded in a spiral track moulded into the top of the polycarbonate layer. The areas between pits are known as "lands". Each pit is approximately 100 nm deep by 500 nm wide, and varies from 850 nm to 3.5 µm in length. The distance between the tracks, the pitch, is 1.5 µm.
A CD is read by focusing a 780 nm wavelength (near infrared) semiconductor laser through the bottom of the polycarbonate layer. The change in height between pits and lands results in a difference in the way the light is reflected. By measuring the intensity change with a photodiode, the data can be read from the disc.
The digital data on a CD begins at the center of the disc and proceeds toward the edge, which allows adaptation to the different size formats available. Standard CDs are available in two sizes. By far, the most common is 120 millimetres (4.7 in) in diameter, with a 74- or 80-minute audio capacity and a 650 or 700 MB (737,280,000 bytes) data capacity. This diameter has been adopted by subsequent formats, including Super Audio CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc.
Replicated CDs are mass-produced initially using a hydraulic press. Small granules of heated raw polycarbonate plastic are fed into the press. A screw forces the liquefied plastic into the mold cavity. The mold closes with a metal stamper in contact with the disc surface. The plastic is allowed to cool and harden. Once opened, the disc substrate is removed from the mold by a robotic arm, and a 15 mm diameter center hole (called a stacking ring) is created. The time it takes to "stamp" one CD, is usually 2 to 3 seconds.
This method produces the clear plastic blank part of the disc. After a metallic reflecting layer (usually aluminium, but sometimes gold or other metal) is applied to the clear blank substrate, the disc goes under a UV light for curing and it is ready to go to press. To prepare to press a CD, a glass master is made, using a high-powered laser on a device similar to a CD writer. The glass master is a positive image of the desired CD surface (with the desired microscopic pits and lands). After testing, it is used to make a die by pressing it against a metal disc.
The die is a negative image of the glass master: typically, several are made, depending on the number of pressing mills that are to make the CD. The die then goes into a press and the physical image is transferred to the blank CD, leaving a final positive image on the disc. A small amount of lacquer is applied as a ring around the center of the disc, and rapid spinning spreads it evenly over the surface. Edge protection lacquer is applied before the disc is finished. The disc can then be printed and packed
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