DVD (an abbreviation of "digital video disc" or "digital versatile
disc") is a digital optical disc storage format invented and
Sony in 1995. The medium can store any kind
of digital data and is widely used for software and other computer
files as well as video programs watched using
DVD players. DVDs offer
higher storage capacity than compact discs while having the same
Prerecorded DVDs are mass-produced using molding machines that
physically stamp data onto the DVD. Such discs are a form of DVD-ROM
because data can only be read and not written or erased. Blank
DVD discs (
DVD-R and DVD+R) can be recorded once using a
DVD recorder and then function as a DVD-ROM. Rewritable DVDs (DVD-RW,
DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM) can be recorded and erased many times.
DVDs are used in
DVD-Video consumer digital video format and in
DVD-Audio consumer digital audio format as well as for authoring DVD
discs written in a special
AVCHD format to hold high definition
material (often in conjunction with
AVCHD format camcorders). DVDs
containing other types of information may be referred to as
DVD recordable and rewritable
4.1 Dual-layer recording
DVD drives and players
6.1 Laser and optics
6.2 Transfer rates
7.2 Consumer restrictions
9 Successors and decline
11 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary comments that, "In 1995 rival
manufacturers of the product initially named digital video disc agreed
that, in order to emphasize the flexibility of the format for
multimedia applications, the preferred abbreviation
DVD would be
understood to denote digital versatile disc." The OED also states that
in 1995, "The companies said the official name of the format will
simply be DVD.
Toshiba had been using the name ‘digital video
disk’, but that was switched to ‘digital versatile disk’ after
computer companies complained that it left out their applications."
"Digital versatile disc" is the explanation provided in a
Primer from 2000 and in the
DVD Forum's mission statement.
Comparison of several forms of disk storage showing tracks (tracks not
to scale); green denotes start and red denotes end.
* Some CD-R(W) and DVD-R(W)/DVD+R(W) recorders operate in ZCLV, CAA or
CAV modes, but most work in
Constant linear velocity
Constant linear velocity (CLV) mode.
There were several formats developed for recording video on optical
discs before the DVD. Optical recording technology was invented by
David Paul Gregg and James Russell in 1958 and first patented in 1961.
A consumer optical disc data format known as
LaserDisc was developed
in the United States, and first came to market in
Atlanta, Georgia in
1978. It used much larger discs than the later formats. Due to the
high cost of players and discs, consumer adoption of
very low in both North America and Europe, and was not widely used
anywhere outside Japan and the more affluent areas of Southeast Asia,
such as Hong-Kong, Singapore,
Malaysia and Taiwan.
CD Video released in 1987 used analog video encoding on optical discs
matching the established standard 120 mm (4.7 in) size of
Video CD (VCD) became one of the first formats for
distributing digitally encoded films in this format, in 1993. In
the same year, two new optical disc storage formats were being
developed. One was the Multimedia
Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by
Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density (SD) disc,
supported by Toshiba, Time Warner, Matsushita Electric, Hitachi,
Mitsubishi Electric, Pioneer, Thomson, and JVC. By the time of the
press launches for both formats in January 1995, the MMCD nomenclature
had been dropped, and
Sony were referring to their format
Video Disc (DVD).
Representatives from the SD camp asked
IBM for advice on the file
system to use for their disc, and sought support for their format for
storing computer data. Alan E. Bell, a researcher from IBM's Almaden
Research Center, got that request, and also learned of the MMCD
development project. Wary of being caught in a repeat of the costly
videotape format war between
Betamax in the 1980s, he convened
a group of computer industry experts, including representatives from
Apple, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Dell, and many others. This group
was referred to as the Technical Working Group, or TWG.
On August 14, 1995, an ad hoc group formed from five computer
companies (IBM, Apple, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft) issued
a press release stating that they would only accept a single
format. The TWG voted to boycott both formats unless the two camps
agreed on a single, converged standard. They recruited Lou Gerstner,
president of IBM, to pressure the executives of the warring factions.
In one significant compromise, the MMCD and SD groups agreed to adopt
proposal SD 9, which specified that both layers of the dual-layered
disc be read from the same side—instead of proposal SD 10, which
would have created a two-sided disc that users would have to turn
over. As a result, the
DVD specification provided a storage
capacity of 4.7 GB for a single-layered, single-sided disc and 8.5 GB
for a dual-layered, single-sided disc. The
DVD specification ended
up similar to
Toshiba and Matsushita's Super Density Disc, except for
the dual-layer option (MMCD was single-sided and optionally
dual-layer, whereas SD was two half-thickness, single-layer discs
which were pressed separately and then glued together to form a
double-sided disc) and EFMPlus modulation designed by Kees
Sony decided that it was in their best interests to end
the format war, and agreed to unify with companies backing the Super
Density Disc to release a single format, with technologies from both.
After other compromises between MMCD and SD, the computer companies
through TWG won the day, and a single format was agreed upon. The TWG
also collaborated with the Optical Storage Technology Association
(OSTA) on the use of their implementation of the ISO-13346 file system
(known as Universal Disk Format) for use on the new DVDs.
Movie and home entertainment distributors adopted the
DVD format to
replace the ubiquitous
VHS tape as the primary consumer digital video
distribution format. They embraced
DVD because it produces
superior moving pictures and sound, provides superior data lifespan,
and can be interactive. Interactivity on LaserDiscs
had proven desirable to consumers, especially collectors. When
LaserDisc prices dropped from approximately $100 per disc to $20 per
disc at retail, this luxury feature became available for mass
consumption. Simultaneously, the movie studios decided to change their
home entertainment release model from a rental model to a for purchase
model, and large numbers of DVDs were sold.
At the same time, a demand for interactive design talent and services
was created. Movies in the past had uniquely designed title sequences.
Suddenly every movie being released required information architecture
and interactive design components that matched the film's tone and
were at the quality level that Hollywood demanded for its product.
DVD as a format had two qualities at the time that were not available
in any other interactive medium: enough capacity and speed to provide
high quality, full motion video and sound, and low cost delivery
mechanism provided by consumer products retailers. Retailers would
quickly move to sell their players for under $200, and eventually for
under $50 at retail. In addition, the medium itself was small enough
and light enough to mail using general first class postage. Almost
overnight, this created a new business opportunity and model for
business innovators to re-invent the home entertainment distribution
model. It also gave companies an inexpensive way to provide business
and product information on full motion video through direct mail.
Immediately following the formal adoption of a unified standard for
DVD, two of the four leading video game console companies (
The 3DO Company) said they already had plans to design a gaming
console with DVDs as the source medium. (Sony, despite being one
of the developers of the
DVD format and eventually the first company
to actually release a DVD-based console, stated at the time that they
had no plans to use
DVD in their gaming systems.) Game consoles
such as the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and
Xbox 360 use DVDs as their source
medium for games and other software. Contemporary games for Windows
were also distributed on DVD.
DVD specifications created and updated by the
DVD Forum are
published as so-called
DVD Books (e.g.
DVD-RAM Book, DVD-AR Book,
DVD-VR Book, etc.).
Some specifications for mechanical, physical and optical
DVD optical discs can be downloaded as freely
available standards from the ISO website. There are also
European Computer Manufacturers Association (Ecma)
standards for some of these specifications, such as Ecma-267 for
DVD-ROMs. Also, the
DVD+RW Alliance publishes competing recordable
DVD specifications such as DVD+R,
DVD+RW DL. These
DVD formats are also ISO standards.
DVD specifications (e.g. for DVD-Video) are not publicly
available and can be obtained only from the
DVD Format/Logo Licensing
Corporation for a fee of US $5000. Every subscriber must sign
a non-disclosure agreement as certain information in the
DVD Book is
proprietary and confidential.
DVD recordable and rewritable
DVD burner drive for a PC
HP initially developed recordable
DVD media from the need to store
data for backup and transport.
DVD recordables are now also used
for consumer audio and video recording. Three formats were developed:
DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW (plus), and DVD-RAM.
DVD-R is available in two
formats, General (650 nm) and Authoring (635 nm), where
Authoring discs may be recorded with CSS encrypted video content but
General discs may not.
DVD writers can nowadays write the DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW
formats (usually denoted by "DVD±RW" or the existence of both the DVD
Forum logo and the
DVD+RW Alliance logo), the "plus" and the "dash"
formats use different writing specifications. Most
DVD readers and
players play both kinds of discs, though older models can have trouble
with the "plus" variants.
Some first generation
DVD players would cause damage to DVD±R/RW/DL
when attempting to read them.
The form of the spiral groove that makes up the structure of a
DVD encodes unalterable identification data known as Media
Identification Code (MID). The MID contains data such as the
manufacturer and model, byte capacity, allowed data rates (also known
as speed), etc..
Sony Rewritable DVD
Dual-layer recording (sometimes also known as double-layer recording)
DVD+R discs to store significantly more data—up to
8.5 gigabytes per disc, compared with 4.7 gigabytes for single-layer
discs. Along with this, DVD-DLs have slower write speeds as
compared to ordinary DVDs. When played, a slight transition can
sometimes be seen in the playback when the player changes layers.
DVD-R DL was developed for the
DVD Forum by Pioneer Corporation; DVD+R
DL was developed for the
DVD+RW Alliance by Mitsubishi Kagaku Media
(MKM) and Philips.
A dual-layer disc differs from its single layered counterpart by
employing a second physical layer within the disc itself. The drive
with dual-layer capability accesses the second layer by shining the
laser through the first semitransparent layer. In some
the layer change can exhibit a noticeable pause, up to several
seconds. This caused some viewers to worry that their dual-layer
discs were damaged or defective, with the end result that studios
began listing a standard message explaining the dual-layer pausing
effect on all dual-layer disc packaging.
DVD recordable discs supporting this technology are
backward-compatible with some existing
DVD players and DVD-ROM
drives. Many current
DVD recorders support dual-layer technology,
and the price is now comparable to that of single-layer drives,
although the blank media remain more expensive. The recording speeds
reached by dual-layer media are still well below those of single-layer
Dual layer DVDs are recorded using
Opposite Track Path (OTP).
DVD-ROM discs mastered for computer use are produced with track 0
starting at the inside diameter (as is the case with a single layer).
Track 1 then starts at the outside diameter.
DVD video discs are
mastered slightly differently. The video is divided between the layers
such that layer 1 can be made to start at the same diameter that layer
0 finishes. This speeds up the transition as the layer changes because
although the laser does have to refocus on layer 1, it does not have
to skip across the disc to find it.
The basic types of
DVD (12 cm diameter, single-sided or
homogeneous double-sided) are referred to by a rough approximation of
their capacity in gigabytes. In draft versions of the specification,
DVD-5 indeed held five gigabytes, but some parameters were changed
later on as explained above, so the capacity decreased. Other formats,
those with 8 cm diameter and hybrid variants, acquired similar
numeric names with even larger deviation.
The 12 cm type is a standard DVD, and the 8 cm variety is
known as a MiniDVD. These are the same sizes as a standard CD and a
mini-CD, respectively. The capacity by surface (MiB/cm2) varies from
6.92 MiB/cm2 in the DVD-1 to 18.0 MB/cm2 in the DVD-18.
As with hard disk drives, in the
DVD realm, gigabyte and the symbol GB
are usually used in the SI sense (i.e., 109, or 1,000,000,000 bytes).
DVD sector contains 2,418 bytes of data, 2,048 bytes of which are
user data. There is a small difference in storage space between + and
- (hyphen) formats:
Scan of a DVD-R; "a" is the used section while "b" is the unused
Capacity and nomenclature
SS = single-sided, DS = double-sided, SL = single-layer, DL =
Note: All sizes are expressed in their binary sense (i.e. 1
Size comparison: a 12 cm
DVD+RW and a 19 cm pencil
DVD-RW Drive operating with the protective cover removed.
Capacity and nomenclature of (re)writable discs
SS SL (1.0)
SS SL (2.0)
SS SL (1.0)
SS SL (2.0)
DS SL (1.0)
DS SL (2.0)
Note: All sizes are expressed in their binary sense (i.e. 1
Capacity differences of writable
All sizes are expressed in their binary sense (i.e. 1
1,073,741,824 bytes etc.).
DVD drives and players
Optical disc drive and
DVD drives are devices that can read
DVD discs on a computer. DVD
players are a particular type of devices that do not require a
computer to work, and can read
Laser and optics
Comparison of various optical storage media
All three common optical disc media (Compact disc, DVD, and Blu-ray)
use light from laser diodes, for its spectral purity and ability to be
DVD uses light of 650 nm wavelength (red), as
opposed to 780 nm (far-red, commonly called infrared) for CD.
This shorter wavelength allows a smaller pit on the media surface
compared to CDs (0.74 µm for
DVD versus 1.6 µm for CD),
accounting in part for DVD's increased storage capacity.
Blu-ray Disc, the successor to the
DVD format, uses a
wavelength of 405 nm (violet), and one dual-layer disc has a
50 GB storage capacity.
Internal mechanism of a
DVD-ROM Drive. See text for details.
Read and write speeds for the first
DVD drives and players were of
1,385 kB/s (1,353 KiB/s); this speed is usually called
"1×". More recent models, at 18× or 20×, have 18 or 20 times that
speed. Note that for CD drives, 1× means 153.6 kB/s
(150 KiB/s), about one-ninth as swift.
DVD drive speeds
~Write time (minutes)
Main article: DVD-Video
DVD-Video is a standard for distributing video/audio content on DVD
media. The format went on sale in Japan in 1995, in the United States,
Canada, Central America, and Indonesia in 1997, and in Europe, Asia,
Australia, and Africa in 1998.
DVD-Video became the dominant form of
home video distribution in Japan when it first went on sale in 1995,
but it shared the market for home video distribution in the United
States until June 15, 2003, when weekly
DVD-Video in the United States
rentals began outnumbering weekly
VHS cassette rentals. DVD-Video
is still the dominant form of home video distribution worldwide except
for in Japan where it was surpassed by
Blu-ray Disc when
went on sale in Japan on March 31, 2006.
Main article: Content Scramble System
Content Scramble System (CSS) is a digital rights management (DRM)
and encryption system employed on almost all commercially produced
DVD-video discs. CSS utilizes a proprietary 40-bit stream cipher
algorithm. The system was introduced around 1996 and was first
compromised in 1999.
The purpose of CSS is twofold:
CSS prevents byte-for-byte copies of an MPEG (digital video) stream
from being playable since such copies do not include the keys that are
hidden on the lead-in area of the restricted DVD.
CSS provides a reason for manufacturers to make their devices
compliant with an industry-controlled standard, since CSS scrambled
discs cannot in principle be played on noncompliant devices; anyone
wishing to build compliant devices must obtain a license, which
contains the requirement that the rest of the DRM system (region
codes, Macrovision, and user operation prohibition) be
While most CSS-decrypting software is used to play
DVD videos, other
pieces of software (such as
DVD Decrypter, AnyDVD, DVD43, Smartripper,
DVD Shrink) can copy a
DVD to a hard drive and remove Macrovision,
CSS encryption, region codes and user operation prohibition.
The rise of filesharing has prompted many copyright holders to display
DVD packaging or displayed on screen when the content is
played that warn consumers of the illegality of certain uses of the
DVD. It is commonplace to include a 90-second advertisement warning
that most forms of copying the contents are illegal. Many DVDs prevent
skipping past or fast-forwarding through this warning.
Arrangements for renting and lending differ by geography. In the U.S.,
the right to re-sell, rent, or lend out bought DVDs is protected by
the first-sale doctrine under the Copyright Act of 1976. In Europe,
rental and lending rights are more limited, under a 1992 European
Directive that gives copyright holders broader powers to restrict the
commercial renting and public lending of
DVD copies of their work.
Main article: DVD-Audio
DVD-Audio is a format for delivering high fidelity audio content on a
DVD. It offers many channel configuration options (from mono to 5.1
surround sound) at various sampling frequencies (up to
24-bits/192 kHz versus CDDA's 16-bits/44.1 kHz). Compared
with the CD format, the much higher-capacity
DVD format enables the
inclusion of considerably more music (with respect to total running
time and quantity of songs) or far higher audio quality (reflected by
higher sampling rates, greater sample resolution and additional
channels for spatial sound reproduction).
Despite DVD-Audio's superior technical specifications, there is
debate[by whom?] as to whether the resulting audio enhancements are
distinguishable in typical listening environments.
forms a niche market, probably due to the very sort of format war with
rival standard SACD that
Main article: Content Protection for Recordable Media
DVD-Audio discs employ a DRM mechanism, called Content Protection for
Prerecorded Media (CPPM), developed by the 4C group (IBM, Intel,
Matsushita, and Toshiba).
Although CPPM was supposed to be much harder to crack than a DVD-Video
CSS, it too was eventually cracked, in 2007, with the release of the
dvdcpxm tool. The subsequent release of the libdvdcpxm library (based
on dvdcpxm) allowed for the development of open source DVD-Audio
players and ripping software. As a result, making 1:1 copies of
DVD-Audio discs is now possible with relative ease, much like
Successors and decline
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to
reflect recent events or newly available information. (February 2018)
In 2006, two new formats called
HD DVD and
Blu-ray Disc were released
as the successor to DVD.
HD DVD competed unsuccessfully with Blu-ray
Disc in the format war of 2006–2008. A dual layer
HD DVD can store
up to 30 GB and a dual layer
Blu-ray disc can hold up to 50
However, unlike previous format changes, e.g., vinyl to Compact Disc
VHS videotape to DVD, there is no immediate indication that
production of the standard
DVD will gradually wind down, as they still
dominate, with around 75% of video sales and approximately one billion
DVD player sales worldwide as of 3 April 2011. In fact, experts claim
DVD will remain the dominant medium for at least another five
Blu-ray technology is still in its introductory phase, write
and read speeds being poor and necessary hardware being expensive and
not readily available.
Consumers initially were also slow to adopt
Blu-ray due to the
cost. By 2009, 85% of stores were selling
Blu-ray Discs. A
high-definition television and appropriate connection cables are also
required to take advantage of
Blu-ray disc. Some analysts suggest that
the biggest obstacle to replacing
DVD is due to its installed base; a
large majority of consumers are satisfied with DVDs. The DVD
succeeded because it offered a compelling alternative to VHS. In
addition, the uniform media size let manufacturers make Blu-ray
players and now defunct format
HD DVD players backward-compatible, so
they can play older DVDs. This stands in contrast to the change from
vinyl to CD, and from tape to DVD, which involved a complete change in
physical medium. As of 2012[update] it is still commonplace for
studios to issue major releases in "combo pack" format, including both
DVD and a
Blu-ray disc (as well as, in many cases, a third disc with
an authorized digital copy). Also, some multi-disc sets use Blu-ray
for the main feature, but DVDs for supplementary features (examples of
this include the
Harry Potter "Ultimate Edition" collections, the 2009
re-release of the 1967
The Prisoner TV series, and a 2007 collection
related to Blade Runner). Another reason cited (July 2011) for the
slower transition to
DVD is the necessity of and
confusion over "firmware updates" and needing an internet connection
to perform updates.
This situation is similar to the changeover from
78 rpm shellac
recordings to 45 rpm and 33⅓ rpm vinyl recordings. Because the new
and old mediums were virtually the same (a disc on a turntable, played
by a needle), phonograph player manufacturers continued to include the
ability to play 78s for decades after the format was discontinued.
Manufacturers continue to release standard
DVD titles as of
2018[update], and the format remains the preferred one for the release
of older television programs and films. Some programs, such as Star
Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation must be
re-scanned to produce a high definition version from the original film
recordings. (Certain special effects were also updated to appear
better in high-definition.) In the case of Doctor Who, a series
primarily produced on standard definition videotape between 1963 and
BBC Video reportedly intended to continue issuing DVD-format
releases of that series until at least November 2013. Netflix's DVD
service, started in 1998, is still delivering DVDs and
to over 4 million subscribers.
DVDs are also facing competition from video on demand
services. With increasing numbers of homes having high
speed Internet connections, many people now have the option to either
rent or buy video from an online service, and view it by streaming it
directly from that service's servers, meaning that the customer need
not have any form of permanent storage media for video at all. PWC
predicts that online streaming revenue will overtake physical media
sales revenue by 2018. Globally, the total combined revenue from
over-the-top (OTT)/streaming services and broadcasters' video on
demand (VOD) services is expected to grow at a CAGR of 19.9% to
overtake physical home video revenue (the sale and rental of DVDs and
Blu-ray discs) in 2018. By 2017, digital streaming services had
overtaken the sales of DVDs and Blu-rays for the first time. 
DVD longevity is measured by how long the data remains readable from
the disc, assuming compatible devices exist that can read it: that is,
how long the disc can be stored until data is lost. Numerous factors
affect longevity: composition and quality of the media (recording and
substrate layers), humidity and light storage conditions, the quality
of the initial recording (which is sometimes a matter of mutual
compatibility of media and recorder), etc. According to NIST, "[a]
temperature of 64.4 °F (18 °C) and 40% RH [Relative
Humidity] would be considered suitable for long-term storage. A lower
temperature and RH is recommended for extended-term storage."
According to the
Optical Storage Technology Association
Optical Storage Technology Association (OSTA),
"Manufacturers claim lifespans ranging from 30 to 100 years for DVD,
DVD+R discs and up to 30 years for DVD-RW,
According to a NIST/LoC research project conducted in 2005–2007
using accelerated life testing, "There were fifteen
tested, including five DVD-R, five DVD+R, two
DVD-RW and three DVD+RW
types. There were ninety samples tested for each product. [...]
Overall, seven of the products tested had estimated life expectancies
in ambient conditions of more than 45 years. Four products had
estimated life expectancies of 30–45 years in ambient storage
conditions. Two products had an estimated life expectancy of 15–30
years and two products had estimated life expectancies of less than 15
years when stored in ambient conditions." The life expectancies for
95% survival estimated in this project by type of product are
tabulated below:[dubious – discuss]
over 45 years
over 45 years
List of computer hardware
Digital video recorder
Disk-drive performance characteristics
DVD region code
DVD TV game - Interactive movie
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Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Inside DVD-Video/MPEG Format
All About Converting From Several
Video Formats To
DVD at Wikibooks
DVD at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
DVD Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Dual Layer Explained – Informational Guide to the Dual Layer
DVD Gallery": 1997
DVD demo disc (segment) — an
Toshiba demonstration disc with technical information on the
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Inkjet printable DVD
DVD region code
DVD copy protection
DVD writing speed
DVD Copy Control Association
Straight to DVD
DVD CCA v Bunner
DVD CCA v Kaleidescape
DVD recordable manufacturers
DVD authoring software
DVD burning software
DVD copy protection schemes
Video Express (DIVX)
Video storage formats
Ampex 2 inch helical VTR (1961)
Sony 2 inch helical VTR (1961)
Type A (1965)
Philips VCR (1972)
Type B (1976)
Type C (1976)
Video 2000 (1980)
Digital-S (D9) (1995)
Betacam SX (1996)
Sony HDVS (1984)
D6 HDTV VTR
D6 HDTV VTR (2000)
HDCAM SR (2003)
CD Video (1987)
VSD (c. 1987)
MiniDVD (c. 1996)
Video Disc) (2003)
HVD (High-Definition Versatile Disc) (2004)
MUSE Hi-Vision LD (1994)
HD DVD (2006)
Blu-ray disc) (2006)
MiniBD (c. 2006)
HVD (Holographic Versatile Disc) (2007)
CBHD (China Blue High-definition Disc) (2008)
UHD BRD (Ultra HD
Blu-ray disc) (2016)
DVCPRO HD (2000)
Video recorded to film
Electronicam kinescope (1950s)
Video Recording (1967)