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A Compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM) is a storage device that can be read but not written to.
CD-ROM was a common convention for delivery of audio and other data through the years before small solid-state flash drives and other devices began to take over.
As magnetic tape had replaced vinyl, the compact disc replaced magnetic tape as a durable, easy way to store information.
In many ways, the CD-ROM was the last physical data storage method, coinciding with the use of floppy disks for computers. By contrast, today's data storage and data transmissions are mostly 'completely digital’ in the sense that tiny pieces of hardware can handle the information that would have been put in dozens of individual compact discs or floppy disks.
As compact discs became a common data format for both music and other kinds of data, writable CDs allow users to download data from their computers to be used in other devices, for instance, in replicating songs and playlists for use in stereo systems with compact disc capability.
As compact discs became useful for storing and delivering software in addition to music, companies worked on specific technical protocols for different kinds of digital data written onto CD-ROM products. These continue to help manage video, individual files and different kinds of data that may be on a compact disc.