Computer Output to Laser Disk

What Does Computer Output to Laser Disk Mean?

Computer output to laser disk (COLD) was used to capture, store and retrieve large amounts of data such as loan records, accounting reports, shipping documents, inventories, customer bills and general business records.


COLD allowed for the storing of these records on multiple optical disks in a compressed yet easily retrievable format. It was meant to replace paper creations of these documents. The system is composed of both software and hardware.

The COLD management software allows documents to be sent to the system, much like printing, then it is organized for ease of access, compressed and stored.

The hardware consists of optical disk drives mounted on a unit referred to as a jukebox. COLD systems allow for automatically archiving documents at a scheduled date and time. It can also index documents in many different ways and periodically distribute the indexes. Newer technologies have rendered COLD systems obsolete now, in particular solid-state data storage systems (SSDS).

This term is also known as enterprise report management (ERM).

Techopedia Explains Computer Output to Laser Disk

COLD systems are easier to work with than voluminous paper records. COLD system vendors advertise that millions of pages of paper can be stored in a single 5¼ inch optical disk.

Mason Grigsby is known as the father of COLD and promoted a name change in 2002. He maintained that it is not very relevant anymore, as a laser disc technology has been replaced by other forms of optical media and is only one form of document storage. Now the system is known as enterprise report management (ERM).

Computer output to laser disk was a new and better way of storing electronic business documents. It made more sense as computer technology evolved. Paper media is bulky, heavy and more costly. With optical disks, massive amounts of data may be easily stored and retrieved.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.