Example image: CD-ROM drive
Example image: CD-ROM
CD-ROM (an abbreviation of "Compact Disc read-only memory") is a Compact Disc that contains data accessible by a computer. While the Compact Disc format was originally designed for music storage and playback, the format was later adapted to hold any form of binary data. CD-ROMs are popularly used to distribute computer software, including games and multimedia applications, though any data can be stored (up to the capacity limit of a disc). Some CDs hold both computer data and audio with the latter capable of being played on a CD player, whilst data (such as software or digital video) is only usable on a computer (such as PC CD-ROMs). These are called Enhanced CDs.
Although many people use lowercase letters in this acronym, proper presentation is in all capital letters with a hyphen between CD and ROM. It was also suggested by some, especially soon after the technology was first released, that CD-ROM was an acronym for "Compact Disc read-only-media", or that it was a more 'correct' definition. This was not the intention of the original team who developed the CD-ROM, and common acceptance of the 'memory' definition is now almost universal. This is probably in no small part due to the widespread use of other 'ROM' acronyms such as Flash-ROMs and EEPROMs where 'memory' is usually the correct term.