Optical disks have come a long way. They began back in the 1980s with the humble CD, which was great for music, computer software and data. Unfortunately it turned out to be poor for movies, though there was some limited success withVideoCD in Asian markets.

DVDs came to the rescue in the 1990s with capacity enough for movies – great! But then, along came high definition video, a format way out of the DVD league.

All was not lost. In the nick of time, around the new millennium, the invention of a marketable blue laser diode provided the eureka for optical disks. Brighter, thinner blue lasers gave far better definition and accuracy than the old CD/DVD red lasers. Now a disk the same dimensions as a DVD could carry many times more data – including hours of high-definition video! Hurray!

Excited consumers looked on with sadly fast fading hope as, true to form, the industry leaders around the world leaped into action and collaborated to create a truly awful mess.

Two competing formats had emerged, HD-DVD and Blu-ray, both vying for market supremacy. Championed by media and technology giants on both sides, it was a close run thing for years. When HD-DVD finally capitulated in November 2008 Blu-ray became the industry standard for blue laser optical disk technology. With 100GB capacity, live web interaction and high definition, surely the Blu-ray Disk (BD) is the future?

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