It seems strange to record a new compound in CD so late in its history, especially as it is certain that it will soon be superseded (industry pundits expect DVD to be selling more units than CD before the turn of the century). But there’s life in the older format yet.
The hybrid CD is basically a conventional CD-ROM which contains detailed data on some topic — perhaps a database, bibliography, instruction manual, shopping catalogue or encyclopaedia — allied with online access. Such discs get out of date extremely quickly and until recently the only solution was to revise the data regularly and distribute new copies of the CD-ROMs, an expensive and slow business. The hybrid CD solves the problem through software which updates and integrates the data on the CD-ROM with information obtained from a Web site, so combining the large data capacity of the CD-ROM with the immediacy of the Net. No doubt the new DVD-ROM format will adopt the same system, so expect sightings of the term hybrid DVD sometime soon.
Confusingly, the term has also been in use in the industry for some years to refer to a CD-ROM which can be read by a variety of operating systems.