optical disk, any of a variety of information storage disks that are played or read using a laser. Optical disks include compact discs (CDs and CD-ROMs), laser discs (see videodisc), and digital versatile discs (or digital video discs; DVDs and DVD-ROMs). WORM [Write Once/Read Many] disks can be used to record data, but once data is recorded it cannot be altered except by obliterating the old version and storing the new version on a previously unused portion of the disk. Magneto-optical disks, such as the rewritable optical disk and the recordable disk used with the Mini Disc player, have a special layer, as of barium ferrite, that can be magnetically polarized by a recording head when heated with a laser. Data or sound may be recorded to and erased from any portion of a magneto-optical disk multiple times.
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Publication information: Article title: optical disk. Encyclopedia title: The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. © 2012 The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia © 2012, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. Used with the permission of Columbia University Press. All Rights Reserved. Publisher: The Columbia University Press. Place of publication: Not available. Publication year: 2013.
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