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The name "Golden Master" evokes a level of martial arts proficiency or maybe even a final cut of a film. I think context clues provide adequate explanation of a Golden Master release. I would define it as the version of a software [product] that has been approved as the release version following a pre-determined phase of development completion and testing.

If my definition is nearly accurate, what is the genesis of the term Golden Master? Apple is famous for their iOs, OSX GM candidate releases and I have yet to hear anyone else use the same term.

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Related terms "Gold Master" and "gone gold" are used frequently in the Games Industry.
The Urban Dictionary has a nice definition and a possible explanation for the genesis of these terms:

The term itself comes from the old practice of recordable CDs being manufactured with gold film. Hence the gold colored CD actually being the source, with no reference to copies sold as in the recording industry.

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If you were around in early '90s, you could see these golden recordable CDs that used a thin film of gold as the recording medium. Though expensive, brittle, and slow, those were all there was. Later other CD-R technologies made recordable CDs much better, cheaper, and deprived them of the golden color. –  9000 Mar 27 '11 at 15:18

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