CD Basics

 CD Audio










Graphics for CD overview page

Compact Disc Overview

Compact Discs have become highly successful for the distribution of music, games and computer data.

The compact disc celebrated 20 years since its launch in October 1982. The optical disc format has been very successful in this time and provides a compact and reliable distribution format not just for music but for other applications as well. Even with the introduction of DVD, the CD is still forecast to remain the mainstream format for music for some years to come.

CD Audios can store up to 80 minutes in a digital format.  The specification is defined in the Red Book.

In 1984, the Yellow Book specification for CD-ROM was published allowing the CD to be used for computer data storage applications. 

The introduction of recordable versions of the CD and the reduction in price of both hardware and recordable media have encouraged consumers to make copies of both CDs and CD-ROMs, not just for their own use but as an alternative to purchasing the legitimate product. This has led games and music companies to make use of the various copy protection technologies to reduce the level of home copying and to combat piracy.

The future of the compact disc is now under threat from both the Internet and DVD.  Despite the introduction of DVD, the CD is likely to remain the dominant format for music for some time to come.

CD Formats

The compact disc supports a range of pre-recorded formats for music, computer data, video, games and other applications.  These are illustrated in the diagram below and described in sections on CD Audio and CD-ROM. Click on any format for more information or use the links on the left or right above.

Relationships between the various CD and CD-ROM Formats

  • CD Audio is the original CD format on which all other formats are based. CD Audio discs may also use CD-Graphics or CD-Text, while CD-Extra adds computer data to the audio.
  • CD-ROM is derived from CD Audio to store computer data for PC games and other applications.
  • CD-ROM XA is a multimedia version of CD-ROM used as the basis for CD-I, Video CD and Photo CD. CD-i Bridge allows the last two formats to play on CD-I players.

In this page:

CD Formats

See also:

CD & CD-ROM (PDF document)


"The compact disc celebrated 20 years since its launch in October 1982"



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