A MiniDisc, usually abbreviated to MD, is a magneto-optical disc developed by the Sony Corporation initially as a medium for the recording and playback of audio. A single MiniDisc could store 80 minutes of high quality digitized audio. The original MiniDisc was introduced in 1992 as a replacement for cassette tapes but failed to find worldwide popularity outside of specialist applications.
Due to the small size of the discs and the fact that they are rewritable, portable MiniDisc players (much smaller than a conventional cassette "walkman" or a portable CD player) gained popularity prior to the introduction of portable MP3 players. Pre-recorded albums on MiniDisc were originally sold but these failed to gain popularity. Most MiniDisc users instead record "compilations" of songs from other media to listen to on the move.
Advantages of MiniDisc
Because the seek time (the time taken to find a particular point in a song) was close to zero, it was much easier to "fast forward" through songs than a conventional cassette. The robust nature of the minidiscs (solid plastic casing with a metal shutter to protect the disc) made them ideal for portable applications where other media may run the risk of damage. As MiniDisc players do not skip when moved unlike CD players, they are ideal for use whilst running or working out.
One of the areas where MiniDisc usage became widespread was in the recording studio. Both Sony and Yamaha developed 4 and 8 track MiniDisc recorders for studio use. The ability to copy songs from track to track with no loss of sound quality and digitally edit songs quickly and simply made MiniDisc recording far superior to traditional tape based studios. Although in recent years, Hard Disc based recording has become the industry standard, many studios still use MiniDisc technology, particularly when recording live music. Because of the low cost and good performance compared to professional recording equipment, many home studios and amateur recording set ups are built around a 4 or 8 track MiniDisc recorder.
In 2004, HD (High Density) MiniDiscs with 1GB storage capacity were developed not only for audio purposes but to store data from a computer. Similar to USB drives in terms of portability and compatibility, they are often used to make back up copies of important data for security purposes.