Tech Flashback: Retail Blank Recordable Disc Collection (Part 2)

Welcome to the second part of my recordable blank disc box art archive. The effort needed to actually scan and (sometimes terribly) process the images is actually quite extensive, but I hope to at least have as much of these archived online as possible (before I throw them out or lose them)!

I’m splitting them into separate posts to try and reduce bandwidth overload from loading each part (previous part here), although later on, I might feature some logo-top discs or “partial” art where I have lost or damaged some of the inserts.

JNL Digi-Wave CD-R 74 min

jnl-frontinsert-front jnl-frontinsert-rear

This brand will not be familiar to many. After all, they appear to be a low cost importer of goods in Australia, with their JNL Digi-Wave branding even making it to microwave ovens. These discs are nostalgic, because they were the first cheap media I laid my hands on. These were sold individually by JB Hi-Fi at a cost of $1.38 each (from memory) and they didn’t have any issues with my burner at the time. They seemed to OEM two types of disc, mostly the KING branded ones, but there was also another.


It claims to be made in Taiwan, and is “multi speed”, although without saying what those speeds actually are.

jnl-topside jnl-underside

The ATIP is 97m28s40f King Pro Mediatek Inc. I don’t think this company exists anymore, and needless to say, the quality of the disc is nothing to shout about either, as many of them had their reflective layers rot away, or the dyes themselves fade away. The dye itself is a green cyanine, which is generally reputed (without adequate stabilizing additives) to be one of the less long-lived dyed used in CD-Rs. This one does not read past about 50 minutes.

Kodak Ultima 1-12x 74 min

kodak-ultima-frontinsert-front kodak-ultima-frontinsert-rear

Another quality disc, this one was cheaper than their full-gold discs because it was a “mixed” silver+gold. Unfortunately, the terminology of these discs is very confusing. What they might have meant was silver (dye), implying the transparent pthyalocyanine with a gold reflective layer. Or maybe they have an alloyed reflective layer? I’m not too sure. But they did last! The discs themselves are rated for 1-12x usage.


A similar blurb about the features of the disc is provided, and the disc is still Made in Mexico. The artwork is dated to 2000. Apparently they did do testing which showed these discs lasting six times longer than their competitors and provided graphs in the carton that was used to hold ten jewel-cased discs together. I was a skeptic then, but I’m no skeptic anymore – it’s clear that the shoddy stuff just didn’t last as consistently.

kodak-ultima-topside kodak-ultima-underside

As we can see, the colour of the top is a more silvery colour, the markings are different and the word “Kodak CD-R 74” aren’t present in the centre anymore. But the same identifying ID on the outside, and the thin black text in the clear plastic hub is still present. The ATIP is 97m27s45f Eastman Kodak Co.

The underside definitely doesn’t have the cyanine green to it. That’s progress! I remember that there was an even better full gold model known as the Gold Ultima, but I don’t have any examples of it in my possession at the moment.

Kodak CD-RW 1-4x 74 min

kodak-cdrw-frontinsert-front kodak-cdrw-frontinsert-rear

Kodak also sold CD-RWs, of which I had quite a few of. Unfortunately, the front inlay card is slightly water damaged at the bottom, but you do get the idea of the branding.


The artwork is also dated to 2000, and as with many of the discs, warranties were always given but almost never claimed.

kodak-cdrw-topside kodak-cdrw-underside

It may be a little difficult to see, but the top is just the silvering, with the silk-screen over the top. There’s no coloured matte layer for writing on, and strangely, no advertising of their “Infoguard” system either. I think a quick glance at the underside reveals something which you may have also realized yourself – many of the discs come from the same manufactuers.

In this case, the ATIP is 97m34s22f Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. It’s identical to the Verbatim, the quality is virtually identical. Highly reliable stuff.

Verbatim DataLifePlus Premium Azo Blue 1-16x 74 min


These were a lovely disc. They never got past 16x from memory, but they had the deepest blue undersides which had good visual contrast – they were the disc of choice if you wanted to burn text to the disc, in the Yamaha [email protected] system.

The recording layer is based on a different technology known as Azo. Some feared and shunned Azo due to a lack of track record, and the longevity was unknown at the time, but seems to be good. My Azo discs are still readable today.


It was also then made available in an 80 minute variety – I had the front card for that one, but not the rear. Still, worth seeing. Many later burners were capable of writing to these discs at higher than 16x, but quality varies of course.


The inside of the inlay gives spaces for notes, interestingly the ruled lines go right to the edge on the right half.

vebratim-azo-topside vebratim-azo-underside

The disc has a mostly white top, made of “sticky” ink-absorbing material, but not quite the same stuff printable discs are made of. Some areas are “masked” to create the branding and ruled lines. The underside is a gorgeous blue – the later “advanced azo” never replicated the same lovely colour and was more green. The ATIP is 97m34s21f Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.

Imation CD-RW 1-4x 74 min


These were available in our local supermarkets – 3M had changed branding to Imation (often incorrectly spoken as “Imitation”). They offered CD-R’s in a green, with the CD-RW in the Aqua colour.


The inside offers space for notes and warranty information – discs weren’t inexpensive, and these were necessary to encourage investment.


Confusion often existed when consumers purchased media – they didn’t know that many players were not able of reading CD-RW due to their lower reflectivity. This disappointed many, although became a much smaller problem late in the CD’s lifetime.

imation-cdrw-topside imation-cdrw-underside

The top of the disc had a black text on white-tacky coating. The underside isn’t very special, but the ATIP is 97m34s22f Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. In fact, this is identical to the Kodak CD-RW above, meaning that you should receive virtually identical performance from both discs, so buy whatever’s cheapest :).


My first burner was one my Dad bought, a Ricoh MP7060A, 6x4x24x IDE burner with 2Mb buffer. We had opted for the MP7060S, SCSI edition, with free Adaptec controller, but due to a hardware conflict with our motherboard (then, a no-name VIA Socket 7 board hosting an AMD K6-2 300Mhz CPU) meant no SCSI card. Buffer underrun was a real problem for us when burning at 6x, but our Fujitsu 5.2Gb hard drive had no issue keeping up with 4x (as long as we were careful to keep the hard disk off the channel used by the CD Writer). DMA helped a lot as well. Unfortunately, the burner (which was a Samsung OEM’d drive) was quite picky with media, often throwing a Power Calibration Error with many discs when burnt faster than 2x, we chose 2x as the “standard” burn rate, meaning 30-40 minutes for a full disc. The laser wore out fairly quickly too, and we returned it for warranty replacement several times within its first year.

Luckily, the next burner, a Ricoh MP7163A 16x10x32x burner had “Justlink”, which was a buffer-underrun prevention technology, then “touted” as superior to its competitors such as “BURNproof”, “Seamless Link”, etc. I couldn’t verify the claims, but I did know that ruined discs were much less of a problem, although 8x was our favoured burn speed on that model as 16x was locked out by its “Justspeed” technology which decided what speeds the disc could be safely burnt at (could be disabled at the user’s request). I still had this burner around last year, and it was still functioning (but I have a feeling I may have junked it).

I had owned also a BenQ CRW5224W, and LG GCE-8523B as the last CD-RW drives before I moved up to DVD burning.

One of my favourite hobbies was using Nero CD-DVD Speed to gauge the overburn capacity of blank discs, and I would tend to favour ones with better overburn times (varied from disc to disc and manufacturer to manufacturer). It meant that you could squeeze an extra 20-40Mb to a disc most of the time, with no cost and little risk (despite the dialog box often claiming hardware damage being a possibility). Unfortunately, as the edge is most vulnerable to damage, there were times where these discs lost data in that area.

More nostalgic reflection, and more discs to come in future parts …

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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