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A CD burner is a device that records information onto compact discs. It typically takes the form of a rectangular metal (or metal/plastic hybrid) enclosure with a slot or tray into which compact discs are inserted. A laser inside the enclosure burns digital information onto the disc, which can in turn be read on standard CD-reading and playback devices.
Compact discs store and transmit binary data through sequences of bumps that spiral from their center. CD burners etch information onto CD-R or CD-RW media, which are sold as "blank" formats onto which information can be stored on a permanent or (in the case of CD-RW) temporary basis. Like prerecorded CDs, the blank discs are made up of thin metal and polycarbonate layers. Between those layers is a polymer dye that is transformed by the burner’s laser impressions.
The CD burner is a very important tool in the sense of how it has affected consumer media formats. Prior to the CD burner, compact discs were largely uncopyable (at least at the consumer level, where media was typically only copied to cassette). The first CD burners were made available in the late 1980s, but weighed hundreds of pounds and cost upwards of $100,000. But gradually, CD burners became more portable, affordable and accessible to the public, prompting a great deal of copyright concerns and inspiring new DRM protocols.