Hardware makers and software creators agree. This will be the year compact disk, read-only memory (CD-ROM) really takes off. Not only are CD-ROM drives cheap but disks on almost every imaginable subject are flooding the market. There's truly something for everyone. Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the allied landing on the beaches of Normandy, for example, comes the D-Day Interactive Multimedia Encyclopedia, an adaptation of the 665-page Simon & Schuster book. Produced by Context Systems Inc. in Hatboro, Pa., the $80 disk contains 45 minutes of digitized newsreel videos, over 420 articles, 24 animated maps showing troop movements, and almost 30 minutes of audio interviews with those who hit France's sandy shores on June 6, 1944.
On the other end of the spectrum is a CD out next month that further blurs the already hazy line between CD-ROM and CD audio. P Interactive, produced by Graphix Zone in Irvine, Calif., is the first of what the company is calling an "interactive music CD-ROM." The $60 disk features the history and works of P, the rock musician formerly known as Prince. As owners roam the virtual world of P, they pick up clues to solve a puzzle. Once it's solved, P fans are treated to a full-length music video of his latest work, Endorphinmachine. Don't have a CD-ROM drive? No problem. Graphix Zone plans a $5 version that will be sold in record stores as a CD single featuring music from P's latest album, due out later this summer. That disk will also have the interactive programs on it, but buyers must call and pay an additional fee for the code that will "unlock" the computer data for use on any CD-ROM-equipped IBM PC or Macintosh.