DVDs – What Do You Need To Know?

Posted by Ian Stewart on

Although today we have ultra-slim smartphones, instant information on a wristwatch sized device and the ability to watch tv on the run when the DVD hit the market, it was an astonishing piece of technology – many people wondered how so much information could be stored on a shiny piece of plastic! We take a look at the DVD to find out more.

What is a DVD? 

A DVD is a storage disc, similar to the Compact Disc – or CD. It holds various kinds of information in digital form on its surface.

What does DVD stand for? 

Originally it was used as an acronym – ‘digital video disc’ and there was some suggestion that a better description was ‘digital versatile disc’. However, no one could ever really agree on what was best and so the industry just accepted DVD as its official name.

How big is a DVD? 

They are the same size as a CD – 12cm in diameter (or 4.7 inches in old school). That said, there are small versions too, which may need an adapted device for the information on it to be ‘read’. They are most commonly used to store movies or video files but can often be used for games.

Who invented them? 

In 1958, an American named David Gregg invented the ‘Videodisk’ which, around 20 years later, had morphed into the ‘LaserDisc’. These were the forerunners of what eventually became the commercially successful DVD in 1995.

Different forms 

DVDs come in read-only and read-write forms. The read-only versions have their information in a permanent format – commercially released movies for example. Read-write discs meant that you could ‘write’ data onto them with a ‘writer’ or a computer programme. In this way, a DVD could be used over and over again.

Who commercialised them? 

To avoid a format war such as the one between VHS and Betamax, two different groups of companies decided to pool their knowledge in research and development in order to get the DVD off the ground. Sony and Phillips joined forces with Toshiba – a recommendation from IBM to prevent fighting over who’s format was best.

How much information can be stored on a DVD? 

The most common type of DVD disc has only one side and one-layer format for storing information – this means that up to 4.7 gigabytes of data can be held on one disc. If a disc if formatted on both side with 2 layers, up to around 17 gigabytes can be stored.

What’s the quality like? 

Compared to VHS, the quality of the data held on a DVD is much better – the sound and picture on a DVD movie is significantly better than on a VHS tape – more data can be held, and it lasts for much longer. This gives an overall better performance.

When were DVDs first available commercially? 

In 1996, DVDs were sold in Japan but with a couple of years, they became available firstly in America then Europe, Africa and Asia. It was 3 years before they became available in Australia.

As DVDs can hold so much more information and do not deteriorate with each replay of its information, it makes so much sense to convert VHS tapes to DVD and preserve it in digital form before the precious memories become faded and lost. We convert from all traditional media formats including Betamax, Digital 8, Mini DV, Hi8, VHS, S-VHS, VHS-C and Video 8 to DVD so click here to find out how to order.


Last Updated: October 2021

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →