The history of the Laserdisc



Pictured above; a Philips employee holding the first laserdisc


Also called a video disc, The laserdisc is a disc with pictures and sounds recorded on it. It is played back by laser. The material recorded onto the video disc is stamped on to the disk in a similar same way that compact disc are produced. As with the early CDs the home use cannot record onto a Laserdisc.

The earliest disc to contain recorded images appeared in 1928 when the Scottish inventor John Logie Baird developed the Phonodisc. This was a 250 mm, 78 rpm record, similar to the discs being produced for sound recording at that time. On the Phonodisc a 30-line television signal was recorded. Despite its novelty, the Phonodisc was not a commercial success and was abandoned in 1936.

In the late 1970s, Philips and Sony brought video discs on to the market. Called laserdisc it recorded images and sound as tiny pits on the surface of the disc. Pioneer made use of the format as a form of Karaoke Entertainment which made the format popular in commercial circles of Asia. Laserdiscs were never really widely accepted as discs could not be used to record and viewers were restricted to pre-recorded films. In addition, the hardware was expensive, only the very serious video buff were purchasing the home laserdisc format. The average user was very happy with videotape due to its recording capabilities.

In Australia the laserdisc was unpopular due to the fact that the major film distributors there refused to support the Media for the laserdisc leaving only a few company's parallel importing discs which was illegal.
Despite a last push from the format to showcase its superior video and audio capabilities, laserdiscs have largely been superseded by a new format based on a two layer CD called DVD. The DVD format is well on its way to supersede video tape.

DVDs are cheap to manufacture and are being pushed heavily by film companies due to this reason. Today you can even buy a recordable DVD player cheaper than a HiFi VHS recorder once was. 

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Did You Know?

The DVD invented by Philips & Sony, is an adaptation of an early project they both worked on called the CD. They also developed the laserdisc prior to the CD and separately were pioneers in the VCR industry losing the format battle to JVCs VHS system.



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