Music History

Ongoing History Daily: What do the letters “DVD” really stand for?

Most of us have some DVDs somewhere. But here’s a question: What does “DVD” stand for?

The answer is “nothing.”

When the technology was in development, DVD was short for “digital video disc.” But then other members of the group working on the project thought that name was short-sighted because these discs could potentially be used for so much more. That’s when they started calling them “digital versatile discs.” After that, the DVD Forum consortium could never agree on what “DVD” stood for.

Officially, then, DVD doesn’t stand for anything.

One other piece of trivia: More than two million people still get DVDs through the mail via Netflix.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Ongoing History Daily: What do the letters “DVD” really stand for?

  • My old Acura played DVD audio discs. Best quality mobile audio i ever heard. Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan never sounded so good, and I’m not really a Steely Dan fan.

    • Well, Tim, you only fooled yourself if you thought that DVD audio sounded better than CD. Nyquist-Shannon theory shows us that there is nothing to be gained by going past 44.1 kHz sampling rates, and 16 bit encoding provides dynamic range of 96+ db. So there is nothing to be gained by going to higher sampling rates than CD and nothing to be gained by going to more bits of encoding either. Anything beyond CD is just audio quackery, people cannot hear a difference and especially not in a car.

      • I agree with you fundamentally, but they often have different or new mixes, so they can certainly sound different. Some bands used the high-def formats as a chance to fix 90s Loudness Wars CD compression. I idly wonder if any car stereos supported 5.1 sound, but not enough to actually bother looking it up haha.

      • Well, Jim, I can tell that there was a very noticable audible difference. In a car.
        I’ll write an article that says so, so then it becomes gospel.


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