Panasonic has revealed a new world of optical storage that may change the way personal computers are used. Panasonic's leading Japanese technicians and salesmen recently showed a large audience of the territory's original-equipment manufacturers what the future may bring. Everything on show at the Sheraton Hotel was in the area of optical disk storage. There were examples of the new digital video disk standard as well as faster CD-ROM drives and Panasonic's own PD/CD-ROM, a combination of the two. There was also the much talked-about LS-120, a device that may be the answer to the floppy disk drive that everybody has been waiting for. The LS-120 is an optical disk drive that takes special 120-megabyte disks that are exactly the same size as the 3.5-inch floppy in common use today. Compaq has already included it in some models of PCs in the United States. 3M is already making the disks. This drive is backward compatible, meaning it can read and write standard floppy disks as well as the new ones. Junichi Okubo, the senior co-ordinator for Panasonic's information and computer peripherals equipment group, said the future of the floppy was optical. The technology had already been demonstrated by Panasonic, he said. The only problem left to work out was the price. With the help of other companies, such as Compaq, 3M and MKE, Panasonic hoped to replace the floppy with the LS-120. Other companies had also already expressed an interest in the device, including Maxell, one of the world's leading makers of floppy disks, and Matsushita, another of Japan's electronics giants. Mr Okubo said that the optical device was replacing the older magnetic devices and that optical would be everywhere by 2000. 'As we approach the year 2000, storage will get faster and contain more data. High capacity is the key word for the year 2000,' he said. Panasonic has always been a leader in the production of CD-ROM drives and even though it has lost the great lead it once had over its rivals, it is still in the number one position, according to Mr Okubo.