During the decade of the 1980s, optical memory systems made the successful transition from research to product. This presentation reviews the major events of that period of time with particular emphasis on the present commercial and consumer optical memory products. The basic principles and advantages of optical memories are reviewed, and the different system types arc described with attention to the applications and users that require them. The systems include read-only-memories (CD and CDROM), write-once-read-many-times (WORM and WORM/DRAW), and erasable (magnetooptic and phase change) types. The media used in each of these systems are discussed including the performance factors for the different kinds. The key system components such as recording source, recording optics, and focusing and tracking systems are also discussed. Finally, a look at the future of this technology is presented.

© 1990 Optical Society of America

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