Multimedia is the combined use of media, such as movies, music, lighting, CD-ROMs, and the Internet. It is a computer-delivered electronic system that allows the user to control, combine, and manipulate different types of media, such as text, sound, video, computer graphics, and animation. The most common applications of multimedia include training programs and video games. In interactive multimedia, the user’s role is more of a participant than an observer.
The most common multimedia machine consists of a PC with a digital speaker unit and a CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory) drive, which optically retrieves data and instructions from a CD-ROM. Many systems also integrate a handheld tool such as a control pad or joystick, which is used to communicate with the computer. The systems permit users to read and rearrange sequences of text, animated images, and sound that are stored on high-capacity CD-ROMs. Moreover, systems with CD write-once read-many (WORM) units allow users to create and store sounds and images. Some PC-based multimedia devices integrate television and radio as well.
Under commercial development, interactive multimedia systems include cable television services with computer interfaces that enable viewers to interact with TV programs and high-speed interactive audiovisual communications systems. Such communication systems include video game consoles relying on digital data from fibre-optic lines or digitized wireless transmission.