The Story of Optical Recording Discs (Guest talk by Prof. Kees A. Schouhamer Immink)

Video by: Mirjam Paales 02.09.2014 8200 views Physics and Astrophysics Computer Science

The introduction of the Compact Disc (CD) marked the beginning of the shift from analog to digital sound and video technology, the ‘digital revolution’. From its origins as a music format, CD has grown to encompass data storage applications, giving birth to the CD-ROM and the CDR, ideal media for the low-cost dissemination and archiving of massive amounts of data. The low price, the robust disc, and the simple intuitive control of this user-friendly product made it open to all levels of society. In the late 20th century, optical media such as the CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray accounted for a strong economic and technological impulse to the music and movie industry. Publishing using optical media has become very widespread because of its ease of use and low cost of producing large quantities of original copies.

In the mid 70s, the first attempts were made to store digital data on the analog video laserdisc. The engineers were facing a challenging task never undertaken before, namely the merging of two technologies: the contactless read-out by a laser and the digital coding/decoding and digital processing. Due to everyday handling damage, such as dust, fingerprints, and tiny scratches on the disc, read errors are introduced. Also the servo's following the tracks are prone to malfunctioning, and may skip tracks or get stuck. Without well-designed digital coding technology, optical discs would be extremely error prone and sensitive to track loss, and would remain a laboratory toy.

The speaker will discuss the engineering challenges and the solutions that made three generations of optical media a great technological and commercial success.





Dr Kees Schouhamer Immink, president and founder of Turing Machines Inc a Dutch-based research and consulting firm. He is, since 1995, an adjunct professor at the Institute for Experimental Mathematics, University of Essen, Essen, Germany, and affiliated with the NanYang Technological University, Singapore, as a Visiting Professor.

For more than three decades, Kees Schouhamer Immink has played a central role in research of digital recording products. Many aspects of recording systems have gained from his creativity, including, notably, coding technology, electronics, servo design and performance, playing behavior, system control and protection. He has been instrumental in the design and development of a wide variety of digital consumer-type video, audio, and data recorders such as Compact Disc (CD),  CD-ROM, Compact Disc Video (CD-V), DAT, Digital Compact Cassette (DCC), Digital Video Recorder (DV), DVD, and BluRay Disc. His research resulted in four books, more than 100 articles, and over 1000 foreign patents.

He is a Fellow of the IEEE, IEE, AES, SMPTE, an Academician of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences,  a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and an honorary member of the Netherlands Electronics and Radio Society.

Immink received several tributes that summarize the impact of his contributions to the digital audio and video revolution. Among the accolades received are the Edison Medal for a career of creative contributions to the technologies of digital video, audio, and data recording, and an individual Technology Emmy award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands bestowed him a knighthood in 2000.