CD-ROM stands for Compact Disk Read-Only Memory. A CD-ROM is a device that can be used on a computer that has an optical drive. The “ROM” part of the name implies that the data on the disc cannot be altered or erased. This feature on CD-ROM, coupled with their large capacity make them great media device for retail software.

The initial CD-ROMs could store about 600 MB of data, but they now can store up to 700 MB. Although CD-ROM share the same technology as audio CDs, they are formatted differently. Thus, they can store many types of data.

Until the mid-2000s CD-ROM were majorly used to distribute software for video game consoles and computers.

The Yellow Book is the standard that specifies the format of CD-ROMs. The Yellow Book, one of a set of color-bound books that contain the technical standard for all CD formats, created by Sony and Philips in 1988, was the foremost extension of Compact Disc Digital Audio. It designed the CD-ROM to hold any form of data.

In the 1990s, the CD-ROM quickly replaced the floppy disk for software circulation. An audio CD player cannot read data on CD-ROMs, but CD-ROM drives can play audio discs. In general, the term “CD” refers to all CD formats. The interactive message, “insert the installation CD” actually mean “insert the installation CD-ROM”.

Transfer of data onto a CD-ROM was pretty slow in the beginning. Back in the late 1980s, the first

CD-ROM drives transferred data at the rate of 150 KB per second. By increasing the spindle speed times two, i.e. from 530 to 1,600 rpm, the transfer rate doubled to 300 KB. For a no of years after that, speed increased until reaching 48 times and higher, making the earliest version embarrassingly slow by comparison.