Optical Drive Edit

Ana Tingler Edit

This fabulous piece of technology allows one to cuddle up and watch "Dirty Dancing", play some jazzin' tunes by Ella Fitzgerald, or make some good old mix tapes. How can it do all these amazing things? Well, in other words, the optical disk drive is the device that reads information on a disc (i.e. DVD, CD, or Blu-ray). It uses a laser to edit, read, or rewrite data on a disc--the laser being at different intensities depending on the task. It can play music via CD's, and play movies/shows/what-have-you via DVD's or Blu-ray (though Blueray requires a special drive). Today, most disc drives can also edit the data on the disc, or put data on the disc, but this wasn't always possible.  

The laser it uses is not in fact alike that of Superman, rather it is an electromagnetic wave that's around the visible spectrum, and different discs require different specific wave lengths. As anyone who has ever used a DVD/Blu-ray knows, the information read by the optical drive is sent throughout the computer (see and ) and is displayed on the monitor. (See ). Though DVD's came a bit later than CD's--back when desktops with giant bricks that held the inter-workings of the computer were a thing, "CD-ROMs" were developed for use. CDs are only sound, i.e. those tunes or a voice recording, which the drive reads and allows the computer to play the audio.  Also, this was the age when one had to have a disc in ones computer to play a video game, as the drive would read off that information so the computer could run the game. 

Optical drive
The laser beam is controlled and directed through a lens, and the same lens is used for both DVDs and CDs as the optical mechanism for reading them are rather similar. Yet as I said before, Blu-ray requires a different mechanism. In Paul Zandbergen from ""'s words: "For compact discs, or CDs, a wavelength of 780 nano meters (nm) is used, which is in the infrared range. For digital video discs, or DVDs, a wavelength of 650 nm (red) is used, while for Blu-ray discs, a wavelength of 405 nm (violet) is used." It also uses photo-diodes for detecting the reflection of light off the disc. In order to see one's movies or hear ones jams at the desired speed, the drive rotates the disc at a constant linear velocity (CLV)--as you can see by the shape of the disc, the rings vary in size, so depending on where the laser is reading, the rpm will change to maintain the constant rate which the laser reads the spiral groves of the disc. Though, this technology may become obsolete in the near future, as people rarely watch movies or listen to music in this form anymore--with the invention of things like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes, and Pandora, one doesn't need to carry around their entertainment choice hard copy.


Zandbergen, Paul. "What is an Optical Drive?--Definition, Types, and Function". November 17, 2016.

"What Does an Optical Drive Do?".,, Nov. 17, 2016.