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Minidiscs were first announced by Sony in 1991. They were "near CD" quality disc based digital mediums for both listening to and recording consumer audio. MD Data, which was used for storing computer data, was released in 1993. Enclosed in small convenient cartridges, there are two types of mini discs available. Premastered Mini Discs, which are similar to CD's, and Recordable mini discs which can be repeatedly recorded on.
The mini disc can usually hold up to 80 minutes of audio, and newer versions have expanded on the audio quality. When first introduced, the mini disks were acclaimed as an upgrade to cassettes, but were not as popular around the rest of the world as they were in Asia and Japan. HDD based players and flash memory players made them more popular around other regions of the world once they were developed in 1998.
Upon it's inception, the mini disc was not greatly accepted by the music industry as a whole, especially the record labels who produced the music. This resulted in only a small amount of albums being able to be bought in this form, which was not good for sales. The discs were also more expensive than other audio products, which is another reason why they were not very popular. The fact that the system had to be hooked up to the hi-fi in order to record also was not good for sales, and these factors all meant that mini discs would likely not be very popular.
The positives for the mini discs were that the seek time was greater than CD's or cassettes. Also, they could be quickly edited on portable machines. You could move, delete, split or combine tracks easily with a mini disc player. The table of contents at the beginning of the disc stores the title of the song and artist information, as well as the start position of various tracks. The audio data compression made it possible to store as much data on these mini discs as could be stored on a regular sized CD. The mini disc also had the added feature of disc skipping being prevented, which was an annoyance for many CD users.
The mini disc has now become less expensive than it was originally and there are more choices in regards to music. There are mini discs available online at a variety of websites at a wide array of prices. These factors have helped the mini disc stay on the market and become increasingly popular throughout the UK and beyond.