CD-ROM Growth Leaps in 1993: More to Come Sound and Video Add Educational Content to Reference, Other Works

Article excerpt

OPTICAL disks called CD-ROMs are spinning in a growing number of computers.

Sales of CD-ROM drives more than tripled last year from 1992. Sales are expected to rise again this year by 50 percent. As a result, software companies are rushing to develop new programs for the technology.

"CD-ROM is a hot ticket item in the stores right now," says Stan Corker, director of removable-storage research for International Data Corporation.

A major reason for the growth: the dramatic drop in prices for CD-ROM drives. A few years ago, they cost nearly $1,000. Today, they are as low as $199. Mr. Corker estimates one out of every five computers sold today comes equipped with a CD-ROM drive.

As prices drop, CD-ROM software is burgeoning. "I don't care if it's {about} Chevy spare parts - there's a myriad amount of information being published" on optical disks, says Jim Porter, president of Disk/Trend Inc. in Mountain View, Calif. New titles range from games to reference works to inventories that businesses find more convenient to put onto CD-ROMs than print in books.

CD-ROM (compact disk, read-only memory) holds not only music but text, photos, and even full-motion video. Each disk can hold up to 660 megabytes of information - the equivalent of 471 floppy disks.

Some companies want to distribute software on CD-ROMs to eliminate the clutter of traditional floppy disks.

"It's definitely something we're looking at," says Joan Dyal, spokeswoman for Parsons Technology in Hiawatha, Iowa. Currently, the company's Quick Verse Bible program comes on eight traditional floppy disks. But adding a Bible translation means an extra three to four disks. Parsons sells seven translations.

Some software companies are already distributing programs on the optical disks.

In September, for example, WordStar International began selling the deluxe edition of the 10-disk American Heritage Dictionary on CD-ROM. "We're certainly planning additional CD-ROM titles - like everybody else," says Eva Morrison, product manager for WordStar's consumer-products division.

The interest is not limited to software. Mr. Porter of Disk/Trend says the movie industry is looking at CD-ROM movie distribution, because production is far cheaper than today's videocassette tapes. Other companies are using the technology to enrich the current versions of their software.

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