Optical Disk Standards.
I hear a lot of rubbish about optical disk ‘standards’, but when I ask anyone to be
specific I find they’re usually unclear as to what they mean, or are worried about the
wrong things. Now ‘standards’ are creeping in for CD-ROMs, they’ve got to. You
can’t publish books for mass distribution if everyone wants the data laid down on
the disk in a different way. The standards come about in the same old way. Standards
Committees go away in a huddle for a few years, and during that time several vented
interests put competing standards on the market. Slowly one system gains
dominance, the others falling by the way side. Eventually a ‘de-facto” standard is
established and then the Standards Committee emerges from it’s huddle. and
pronounces the winner. Simple really !
Even with CD-ROM, we’ve still got two standards, 5.25″ and 12″. People even worry
about that – what’s it matter. Outside I’ve got two cars, a Ford with 13 x 175 tyres
and an Opel with 14 x 185 tyres. It’s obvious I can’t take the wheels off one and put
them on the other, even if the wheels studs would fit. But it doesn’t worry me, so
why should only two physical standards to CD-ROM worry you.
Another interesting fact – all the manufacturers of WORM. optical disk drives and
media are very large multi-national companies, keep this act in mind for what
With WORMs the story is somewhat different. The process of standardisation is
nowhere near as complete. There are several competing types of disk drive and
optical media and although they all work the same way, they aren’t interchangeable.
A couple of early drive and media systems have already dropped out of sight and
the worlds polarising into 5.25″ and 12″ camps. The big information handlers favour
12″, the lesser information handlers go for 5.25″. Some imaging systems hedge their
bets and offer both.
Does this actually matter in the context of an imaging system ? The data stored is
not like micro-publishing where the information is to be disseminated to a large
number of users who have to be compatible. Any profits. to be made from a
micro-publishing system are in the dissemination of the disks and that can only be
profitable if standards exist: No, an imaging system user is highly unlikely to want
to publish his paperwork and so the need for compatibility between one imaging
system and the next is not there. The things an imaging system user should worry
about are twofold. First will the media used by his system remain available during
the lifetime of the equipment in the event of the optical disk system he has chosen
falling out of favour ? Secondly, if his optical disk system is obsolete at the time of
replacement, can the existing data be transferred to the new system ?