Once DVD’s had become an entrenched part of the world’s media landscape, home video aficionados knew that not much time would pass before movie companies did one better than the picture and sound quality of DVD discs. Blu-Ray Disc also known as BD or Blu-Ray) is the next step in optical discs designed to supersede the standard DVD format.
Panamax/Furman at CEDIA

The Blu-Ray Discs has the same physical dimensions as standard DVDs and CDs. A single layered Blu-Ray can store up to 25GB of data while a dual layered can store 50GB. The absolute limit of storage of Blu-Ray DVD’s is still up in the air with most home players having the ability to play up 100GB discs without a firmware upgrade.

The name Blu-Ray derives from the blue-violet laser used to read the disc. While a standard DVD uses a 650 nanometer red laser, Blu-Ray uses a shorter wavelength, a 405 mm blue-violet laser and allows for almost ten times more data storage than a DVD.
Stewart Filmscreen

During the format war over high-definition optical discs, Blu-Ray competed with the HD DVD format. Toshiba, the main company supporting HD DVD ceded in February 2008, and the format war ended. In July 2009, Toshiba announced plans to discontinue its HD DVD player and introduce a Blu-Ray onto the market by the end of 2009.

Blu-Ray Disc was developed by the Blu-Ray Disc Association, a group representing makes of consumer electronics, computer hardware, and motion pictures. As of June 2009, more than 1, 500 Blu-Ray disc titles are available in Australia, with 2, 500 in Japan, 1,500 in the United Kingdom, and 2,500 in the United States and Canada.

In the race to deliver high definition entertainment to the home, the television industry long criticized for dragging its feat on HD introduced HDTV sets for home use in 1998. Television manufactures were so ahead of their time that many consumers now owned a HDTV, but had no HD content to play or view on the sets. Television and cable/satellite stations would not switch over to HD broadcasts for nearly another decade. The only devices available at that time that could record HD were JVC’s digital VHS and Sony’s HDCAM.

Not surprisingly, the origins of Blu-Ray can be traced back to Japan’s electronic giant, Sony. Sony started two projects applying the new blue laser diodes: UDO (Ultra Density Optical) and DVR Blue together with Pioneer. This format of rewritable discs would eventually become Blu-Ray Discs. The core technologies of the formats are essentially similar.

The first DVR Blue prototypes were unveiled at the CEATEC exhibition in October 2000. On February 19, 2002, the project was officially announced as Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray Disc Founders was founded by the nine initial members.

Sony BDZ-S77

The first consumer device was in stores on April 10, 2003. The device was the Sony BDZ-S77, A BD-RE recorder that was made available only in Japan. The recommended price was $3,880, however, there was no standard for prerecorded video and no movies were released for this player. The Blu-Ray Disc standard was still years away, as a newer, more secure Digital Rights Management (DRM) system was needed before Hollywood studios would accept it. Movie studios did not want to repeat the failure of the Content Scramble System used on standard DVD’s. The future for the Blu-Ray format looked promising. With HDTV’s in homes and no HD content to view on them, the door was open for the Blu-Ray disc to once again put Sony back on the map as the world’s leader in home electronics. However, the competition against Blu-Ray was beginning to organize and another HD format would challenge Sony for the prize.

Related Links:

Wikipedia entry
Samsung Blu-ray Resource Center