Technology Explained

Blu-Ray Technology History and The DVD [Technology Explained]

Steve Campbell 09-02-2010

<firstimage=”//” />0_intro_blurayRemember VHS? Of course you do. Back in the day everybody used to play movies in their VCRs, at least until the invention of””and eventual transition to””the DVD. Believe it or not, the DVD was introduced in the US all the way back in 1997, so suffice it to say it has had plenty of time as the number one video storage medium.


Enter Blu-ray. With the introduction of high-definition (HD) video, there was simply too much information for the DVD to handle. The Blu-ray disc, which is a high-density optical disc, was invented as a way to store the large amounts of data that HD video creates. Problem solved, right? Well, pretty much, but Blu-ray didn’t just happen overnight. Blu ray technology had a long history to become as widely accepted as it is today, and it’s just getting started.

In this article, I am going to cover Blu-ray technology history, including its invention, launch, and epic battle with the HD DVD format. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the mysteries that surround this up-and-coming technology, because let’s face it, HD video isn’t going anywhere.

First Thing’s First: Why The Name?

1_blurayContrary to what you might think, the name ‘Blu-ray’ wasn’t just some marketing ploy to make you want to buy the movie industry’s cool, new movie discs. The name is derived from the blue-violet laser used to read the disc, although marketers did jazz it up a bit by dropping the ‘e’ off of the word ‘blue’.

Standard DVDs use a red laser which, as you might know from rainbow studies, has a much longer wavelength than blue/violet light. This seemingly minor difference is what allows Blu-ray discs to store almost 10 times the amount of data a DVD can store.


Blu Ray Technology History – Who Created It?

The creation of the blue laser diode required for this technology is attributed to Shuji Nakamura, a professor in the College of Engineering at UCSB. Sony (along with Pioneer) took this work and came up with prototypes that were unveiled at the CEATEC exhibition in 2000. In 2002, Blu-ray Disc Founders was founded, and they announced the ‘Blu-ray’ project.

blu ray technology history

In 2004, Blu-ray Disc Founders changed their name to the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), and physical specifications for the discs were complete. Fast forwarding to 2006, the BD-ROM specifications were finalized and the first Blu-ray players hit the market. Due to the many delays and setbacks over the project’s lifespan, however, HD DVD players had already been on the market for a few months by then.

The Format War: Blu-ray vs. HD DVD

blu ray technology historyToshiba came out with the HD DVD format, instantly becoming Blu-ray’s primary competition and starting a “format war” in the process. This was similar to the videotape format war between VHS and BetaMax. Never heard of BetaMax? Yeah, me neither.


Initially, the HD DVD was an attempt to avoid changing over from the DVD to a format that was physically different and more expensive. What they ended up with, however, was a high-density optical disc that worked essentially the same way as a Blu-ray Disc, blue lasers and all.

What caused this “war” was the fact that no major companies wanted to commit to one standard over the other, fearing they might pick the wrong one. Once companies/industries began taking sides and battles were won and lost, it was a few key factors that ultimately swung this war in Blu-ray’s favor: the film industry and the PS3.

blu ray technology history

Movie distributors (notably Best Buy & Netflix) sided with Blu-ray. This, coupled with Sony’s announcement to include a Blu-ray player in their upcoming PS3 game console, was a crushing blow to the HD DVD campaign.


In 2008, Toshiba officially threw in the towel, ceasing development of HD DVD players. The war was over.


In conclusion, this article could have just as easily been about the HD DVD replacing the DVD format, but the people have spoken and they want Blu-ray. This format is here to stay until the next wave of new technologies hit the market, but judging from past experiences that might not be for some time.

If you didn’t know what Blu-ray was or where it came from before reading this article I hope I cleared the air for you. If you have any thoughts, ideas, comments, or general inquiries please leave them below!

Image Credit: bak bs & Blu-ray Disc US


Related topics: Blu-ray, CD-DVD Tool.

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  1. Keith D. Swartz
    August 24, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Did you say the people have spoken?! Not really. Sounds to me as though "BIG BUSINESS" ACTED, MAGE THE DECISION FOR THE PEOPLE & everyone else and here we are! Never heard of Betamax... man, you must still be wearing diapers!! LOL

  2. Anonymous
    April 11, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    'This was similar to the videotape format war between VHS and BetaMax. Never heard of BetaMax? Yeah, me neither.'

    I remember BetaMax. We used BetaMax when I was a tyke,but had to switch over to VHS when BM was going the way of the dodo.

  3. Anomanous
    December 12, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Very good here is my chart

    Practice prompt for imformational writing

    Topic:What are blu-ray disks?How do they differ from the normal dvd?
    Want to know?
    Whaat I learned from my research!!!
    .Used for movies
    Are there more benifets to use a blu-ray disks?
    .hd dvd made by tobisha is more expensive,but if you are using a disk with 10-20 gigabytes it can crash easily
    .play in hd
    How do they differ from the normal dvd?
    .made by sony and the name came from the laser that reads them
    .are also used for some video games
    Which company invented them?
    .normal dvds cannot handle high definition because it is too much information for them
    .can be used with sony consals
    Are they only used for movies and video games?
    .name jazzed the name by taking off the e in the name

    where did it get its name from?
    .store 10 times more the data

    How much space can it store?
    .made in 2008!!!!!!!

    How long has it been around?

  4. vidya baalan
    April 29, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    no comment, every thing is going very awsum...well done . good job..keep it up..

  5. Anonymous
    January 29, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    i need a timeline for blu-ray players

  6. Linda
    January 18, 2015 at 12:13 am

    A man of your knowledge regarding tech
    things one finds it hard to believe you have never heard of the Beta format. I do
    believe your goshing us!!!

  7. nima
    May 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    whats matter ?

  8. nima
    May 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    whats matter ?

  9. MikeVertx
    February 12, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    interesting, but definitely missing core information about both.

    • Steve Campbell
      February 12, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      Both what? The article is about the history of Blu-ray. This is not a comparison piece.

  10. ankit
    February 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    But still if you are writing an article comparing 2 formats then it makes sense to include details such as storage capacity, read /write speeds etc.


  11. Haplo
    February 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Aha, but what format is superior? Which one stores more? Which one is faster? Or are they identical?

    You left out those things! I think it's a good idea if you put them up.

    Best regards.

    • pceasies
      February 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

      I believe Blu-Ray stores about 5GB more than HD DVD, speed is probably about the same.

    • Steven Campbell
      February 10, 2010 at 9:19 am

      It doesn't really matter because HD DVD is dead. They both had their upsides: Blu-ray could store more but HD DVD was cheaper. We'll never know if HD DVD would have caught up to Blu-ray or not.