Yeah data CDs players used to be expensive, I think I payed some $300 CDN for first one at some computer show in Toronto but capacity wise it was much cheaper than HDDs. Shortly after, a friend of mine bought SCSI writer for 2000 bucks. What's amazing how fast it all developed a short time after.At 1997 386SX-12 was already completely obsolete in userland, at least here where I live. Too slow even for still popular DOS/text mode software eq. accounting systems.
It was not mainstream thinking. CDs still required specific and quite expensive hardware. Price for internal IDE CD reader alone was like 200$ at 1994. And they was read-only. New software suites at that time took more space on drive too and development environments - 3...5 times more. Hard drive miniaturization and capacity surge around that same time to 250 MB and above came very timely.