DVD-RAM Development History

An evolution more than a revolution, the development of DVD technology began late in 1972, when the first high-capacity CD products were introduced for analog sound and video. During the next 20+ years, only minor enhancements were made to the technology, which is primarily patented by Philips and Sony; but Phase-Change, a new optical storage technology, began to emerge.

1973 -- Matsushita Electric begins R&D of Phase-Change Technology
1981 -- Matsushita Electric introduces 200mm PC-WORM Video Disk
1982 -- Matsushita Electric develops 200mm PC-WORM Data Disk
1987 -- Matsushita Electric rolls out 200MB/side, 130mm, PC-WORM Disk
1989 -- Matsushita Electric announces 300mm PC-WORM Video Disk
1989 -- Matsushita Electric unveils 940MB, 130mm PC-WORM Data Disk
1990 -- Matsushita Electric shipping 1GB, 130mm Rewritable PCR Disk
1993 -- Matsushita Electric announces 1.5GB, 130mm Rewritable PCR Disk. In the early 1990s, the motion picture industry sought an economical solution that was provided higher quality and higher reliability than tape.

1994 -- Motion picture industry forms the Hollywood Digital Video Disc Advisory Group to ensure that one standard will be used by all drive, media and content providers. Their requirements:
* capacity to store feature-length film on one side of disc
* video quality superior to existing VHS and laser disc
* support for high-quality digital audio
* multiple language soundtracks
* multiple aspect ratios
* copy protection
* multiple versions of content with parental lockout

December 1994 -- Philips/Sony introduce the MMCD format, an extension of the existing CD technology.

January 1995 -- Alliance of developers, content providers, hardware/media manufacturers is formed, including Hitachi, JVC, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Thompson and Toshiba. In March of that year, the Consortium introduced the SD format.

May 1995 -- Computer industry alliance formed to ensure the next-generation technology would meet their customers' data and image storage/retrieval requirements. The alliance consisted of Apple, Compaq, HP, Dell, IBM, Microsoft, Gateway and others. Their requirements included:
* one format, common file system for computers, home entertainment systems
* backward compatibility with existing CD technologies at a similar cost
* support for write-once, rewritable technologies on same format
* high data capacity, reliability
* high performance for video, audio, data

October, 1995 -- OSTA develops Universal Disk Format (UDF) file system extension to provide cross-platform file support and MicroUDF as a DVD extension. All participants adopt the new format specification. International Multimedia Associations (IMA) and Optical Video Disc Association (OVDA) propose base-line functionality set for interactivity which is agreed upon by all members.

December, 1995 --DVD Consortium formed (later renamed DVD Forum) consisting of Hitachi, JVC, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Philips, Pioneer, Sony, Thompson, Times Warner and Toshiba.

1996 -- Consortium reaches agreement on copy protection technology. DVD-Video, DVD-ROM specification finalized. First DVD-ROM players introduced. Content developers begin producing specification standard media.

1996 -- Hitachi, Maxell, Fujitsu announce MO-7 or advanced storage Magneto-Optical (ASMO) concept which will provide 5-6GB per disk side. The proposed drives will be able to read DVD but media will only be readable in the drives that record it.

1997 -- DVD Forum develops specifications for recordable (DVD-R) and erasable rewritable (DVD-RAM) implementation. The Forum approved the DVD-RAM standard in 1997, following a three-month evaluation of drive and media compatibility. More than 20 personal computer and storage media manufacturers from around the world took part in this evaluation.

The DVD-RAM format provides the marketplace with a single universal rewritable technology for audio, video and data applications and an agreed-upon capacity growth path while maintaining backward compatibility. In November of that year, Pioneer introduced the first DVD-R drives and Toshiba, Matsushita (Panasonic) and Hitachi introduced 2.6GB DVD-RAM with read compatibility with DVD-ROM, DVD video, DVD-R, CD-Audio, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW and video CD media.

The DVD Forum currently has more than 230 member firms working together to provide compatibility testing, international standardization, roadmap for developing DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, DVD-R and DVD-ROM drives and media.

1997 -- Panasonic and other firms ship first 2.6GB (1 side), 120mm, DVD-RAM Discs

1998 -- Philips and Sony form a new coalition to develop rewritable DVD based on their 25-year- old CD patents. Initially called DVD+RW, the coalition changed the format name to PC+RW (phase-change rewritable) when the DVD Forum ruled that the DVD logo was not applicable to the splinter technology. Ultimately, the group returned to using the DVD+RW name for their concept. The proposed technology now uses the +RW logo.

1998 -- Sony announced that if necessary, it will produce both DVD-RAM and +RW product. In the August 10 issue of Multimedia Week –- “Sony Concedes on DVD+RW Delivery in ‘98” a Sony executive is quoted as saying “it looks unlikely” that the company will deliver the DVD+RW technology that year, giving DVD-RAM “at least a six-month head start” in the format competition.

1998 – Apple ships DVD-RAM with G4 systems and iMac systems with DVD-RAM reading DVD-ROMs

1999 – Panasonic begins shipping 4.7GB DVD-RAM to OEMs, third-party software developers.

1999 – OSTA releases MultiRead2 specification for writable DVD compatibility. Provides single standard for broad interchangeability of recorded media stating that CD- and DVD-conforming drives will read 2.6GB DVD-RAM media.

1999 – HP announces cancellation of 3.0GB +RW product; announces 4.7GB will ship in early 2001.

2000 – DVD Forum adopts sequential re-recordable DVD-RW format without defect sector management for content development applications. Drives scheduled to ship late Q3, 2000

2000 – Hitachi, Toshiba and Panasonic introduce 4.7GB DVD-RAM products, begin to ship to channel partners, end users. New drives write to bare disc media. Twelve media manufacturers announce 4.7GB media products.

2001 – Panasonic announces combination DVD-RAM/R drive.

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