burning a CD

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burning a CD

Post by Phil Austin » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:03 pm

I noticed a discussion here about 'cutting' cheques and 'burning' CD's. We had a discussion the other day at work about the origin of the word 'burn' in the context of CD writing.

I remember 'writing' data to CDs before 2000 when the word 'burn' didn't exist in the context of writing data. In those days you had to be careful when creating a CD to make sure that all the data was on hand so that the write head on the CD writer was supplied with a continuous uninterrupted supply of data. If any other programs were running or the data was coming across a network the stream of data could be interrupted and the disc was ruined.

I remember someone telling me that the word 'burn' was an acronym for 'Buffer Under RuN', which was what happened when the CD write head ran out of data and the disc spoiled.
Looking into the subject recently I found that Sanyo invented a process called Buffer Under RuN Protection' or 'BURN protection' which entailed building a buffer into the CD writer to ensure it didn'r run out of data. This was circa 2000; around the time when people started talking about 'burning' CDs. I believe that the BURN part of 'BURN protection' caught on and mistakenly became known as the process of writing data to a CD. It makes sense really because I have also discovered that the laser in a CD writer does not burn the CD. It melts a dye which forms the dark dots and dashes on the disk. We don't say we are going to 'melt' a CD, which is more accurate than 'burning' a CD. Incidentally, early CD writers were called Coaster Toasters because the CDs that were ruined by Buffer Under RuN were good for only one thing afterwards.
I have found online dictionaries that tell me that burning a CD means writing data to it using a laser, with no explanation about the buffer underrun problem before Sanyo's invention. I would hate to see the word go down in dictionaries with an incorrect origin.
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burning a CD

Post by trolley » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:22 pm

Curious. I had always thought, without giving it much thought, that the word carried a somewhat criminal slant to it. "Burn" is sometimes used, in my circles,to mean steal. If you go to a peer to peer site and download someone elses material, then copy it to a disc without their permission,you have burned (burnt?)it or them. Lately, the word "ripped" seems to used the same way. I just ripped (off) the "Return of the King" DVD.
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burning a CD

Post by DJHampson » Mon Jan 29, 2007 7:45 pm

My understanding is that some types of "CD burners" actually do "burn"...at least they melt points on one of the plastics of the disk. But most of us probably have a CD "writer" which does as you say. But I know next to nothing on the subject.

In what year did Ray Bradbury set 451? Hate to think that when the politically correct really get their way that the technology will be such that he should have written Fahrenheit 181 or Fahrenheit 241.
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burning a CD

Post by Phil White » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:10 pm

Mass-produced CDs and one-off CDs (CD-Rs) produced with a CD writer or "burner" differ significantly in the technology used. CD-Rs have a layer of photosensitive dye that turns opaque when laser light is applied to it. I'm not sure how much heat is actually generated in the process, but as far as I know it has been known as "burning" for as long as the technique has been around. Mass-produced CDs on the other hand have a different structure and are stamped.

There's a good description of the process at http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cd-burner.htm . (Howstuffworks is generally extremely good with this sort of thing.)

I would not believe a word of the "Buffer Under RuN Protection" explanation.
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burning a CD

Post by russcable » Mon Jan 29, 2007 8:54 pm

Around 1991-94, I was in charge of a project at work using some of the first non-commercial computer data CD-ROM burners. It was called a burner back then. The circa-1991 CD burner cost around $10,000 and was a 2.5'x2.5' cube connected to a separate computer. Some part in the laser assembly wore out every 3-6 months and had to be replaced for about $500. The blanks cost around $12 and were glass where the modern ones are plastic. The color change of the burned part was much more pronounced than modern ones. It burned the CD at 1x speed plus it copied and pre-formatted the data from the computer first, then afterwards it would verify that everything was correct, so a "full" disc would take almost 2 hours to create.

About 20% of the discs were ruined by the burner, but sometimes you would get a box of 10 discs where the dye wasn't right to start with and almost all of them would be coasters. Sometimes you could add "blank" time at the beginning of the CD to get to a part of the CD where the dye was better.

To add to the heated metaphor, these were sent to our clients in muffin boxes rather than jewel cases.
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burning a CD

Post by hsargent » Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:47 pm

I was never aware of the problem era of not running any programs during a CD Burn. Since the disc surface is actually changed, the burn seems to apply well.

Buffering to I/O devises was practiced in the 60's since the devices were slower than the computers (even then!).
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burning a CD

Post by Phil White » Tue Jan 30, 2007 4:48 pm

Till this day, I always burn CDs on an idle machine. With the speeds of modern writers, I'd rather not have much additional traffic over the buses while I'm writing. Having said that, I haven't had a coaster for years now.
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burning a CD

Post by dalehileman » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:53 pm

Like DJ, Iim not exactly sure what goes on in the microscopic world of the CD, but I'm pretty sure it's very closely analogous to burning

While on the other hand, as a former prescriptivist I couldn't countenance "drive" referring to a semiconductor memory chip dangling by a keychain

Dejected patient addressing his psychiatrist: "How am I supposed to relax in a world where "truffle" can mean either chocolate or fungus?"-- Bizzaro
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burning a CD

Post by Phil Austin » Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:20 am

Word Gurus,

This is where I found the reference to BURN

http://www.computing.co.uk/actions/trackback/2013852

Quote from web site:-

"Given the high spin speeds involved in recording a CD and the need to accurately place the laser for each burst of power, it is essential to keep data flowing smoothly.
If the flow is halted, even momentarily, the resulting gap on the CD-R could turn it into a useless lump of plastic, traditionally referred to as a 'coaster' (because a drinks mat is all it's good for).
To keep the production of coasters to a minimum, CD-RW drives have built-in memory - a 'buffer' - that's topped up with data while it's being simultaneously emptied for writing.
That way, if the data supply stops for any reason, the CD-RW drive still has data in the buffer that it can use until the supply resumes.
However, if your PC fails to keep the buffer topped up, a 'buffer underrun' occurs and you end up with yet another coaster.

Sanyo came up with a solution for this late in 2000 with its BURN-Proof (Buffer UnderRuN-Proof) system, enabling a drive to stop recording a disc when it is short of data, then to resume at the same point when the data flow is restored.
Today, only the cheapest drives fail to offer BURN-Proof technology or one of its many proprietary equivalents: Exac-Link, Flextra-Link, Just-Link, PowerBurn, SafeBurn, Seamless Link, SmartBurn and Super-Link."

It would be interesting if someone from Sanyo could tell us why they chose the name 'BURN Proof'. Did they realise it appears to mean 'preventing from writing to a CD?

Phil
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burning a CD

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:59 am

The effectiveness of using a CD as a coaster is significantly impaired by its drainage hole.
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burning a CD

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Feb 01, 2007 8:48 am

Phil A., The Oxford English Dictionary lists the verb BURN in the electronics sense and their first example of BURN on a disk of some sort is from 1976 (see quote). Their first actual example of the expression BURNING A CD is from 1998 (see quote). However, the earliest example I found was from 1994 (see quote), which in good agreement with Russ Cable’s dates. And I'm guessing that buried in the literature somewhere there probably are some from a bit earlier than my 1994.
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Answers.com. had the following:

BURN A CD: To write a software or document distribution on a CDR. Coined from the fact that a laser is used to inscribe the information by burning small pits in the medium, and from the fact that the disk comes out of the drive warm to the touch.
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And the The Oxford English Dictionary defined ‘burn’ as follows:

BURN: Electronics. transitive. To write (data) to or on to a CD or DVD by means of a laser device; to produce (a disc) in this way.
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Here is an exceedingly brief and approximate history associated with the word BURN as used with regard to CDs and DVDS:

1960 – The first working laser is produced

1965 – James T. Russell patents a system to read a sequence of sampled music recorded on a disc via a laser – the system remains on the drawing boards for several years

1970s – Russell’s ideas are developed and the word BURN appears in referecnce to a laser making a ‘pit’ or ‘hole’ on spinning plastic disc (see 1976 quote)

1978 to 1981 – Disc players development (Philips, Sony, etc.). Standards emerge for materials (polycarbonate), type of laser, disc diameter, recording from inside to outside diameter of disc, sampling rate, etc.

1982 – Commericial introduction of the CD player by Sony & Philips in Europe and Japan

1983 – CD players realeased in U.S. with 800,000 CD’s being sold this year

1985 – CD-ROM drives enter the computer market

1988 – CD-recordable disc/recorders introduced to market

1995 – Philips and Sony introduce a new type of disc, known as a digital videodisc, the DVD
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<1976 “The latest variant of this type of recording system has been developed by Prof. John Locke of the University of Toronto. His method uses a laser to BURN tiny pits in a spinning plastic disk.”—‘Christian Science Monitor,’ 5 May,page 21/3>

<1982 “When images have been ‘BURNT’, or, more accurately, punched onto the optical disks, they cannot be erased.”—‘Computerworld,’ 29 September, page 75>

<1994 “Pinnacle Micro ships new recordable CD system: . . . A multimedia PC user can BURN A CD-ROM with all their space consuming applications freeing their hard disk for data files.”—‘ Newsbytes News Network,’ 30 August>

<1998 ‘BURNING’ A CD to the customer's demands puts the company, and the artists, in full control.”—‘Independent,’ 12 October, I. page 6/6> [[OED’s first appearance in print]]

<2000 “ In particular, you can BURN A DVD presentation to CD-R disc.”— ‘Camcorder & Computer Video,’ 1 August 1>

<2004 “Just import your footage or photos, edit them onboard, and BURN the results to DVD.”—‘Boys Toys,’ July, page 104>
(Oxford English Dictionary and other sources)
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Ken G – January 31, 2007
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burning a CD

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:31 am

CDs are difficult to cut on a bandsaw. The CD is very brittle, and unless it is firmly backed-up, many small cracks appear along the cut.
I have yet to burn one. I wonder if you can make a zilch out of it? We used dry-cleaner-bags on sticks. Anyone ever call burning plastic a "zilch"?
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burning a CD

Post by tony h » Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:49 am

I am sure we used to blast or burn ROMs, PROMs and EPROMs before there were discs involved.
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