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1.13 Magazine articles in late 1976 and early 1977 implied theimminent release of the RCA VideoDisc system. Why didn't it appear untilMarch 1981?




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This article is from the RCA SelectaVision VideoDisc FAQ, by tom@cedmagic.com (Tom Howe) with numerous contributions by others.

1.13 Magazine articles in late 1976 and early 1977 implied theimminent release of the RCA VideoDisc system. Why didn't it appear untilMarch 1981?

In late 1975, Anthony Conrad replaced Robert Sarnoff as head of RCA and
decided to proceed with market introduction of the CED system. One
notable article in the February 1977 issue of _Popular Science_ was
illustrated with a photo of the Indianapolis plant, showing many of
RCA's top-loading CED players under assembly. This article implied a
1977 introduction of the system, but it was actually in limbo with
Conrad having been ousted as CEO in late 1976 in the wake of income tax
improprieties. He was replaced by Edgar Griffiths, who at that time was
an opponent of the VideoDisc system. Griffiths scaled back the VideoDisc
program, shutting down the Indianapolis pilot production facility in
July 1977, but allowed basic VideoDisc research to continue. This
situation continued until January 1979, when he abruptly announced that
RCA would rush VideoDisc to market (it became known as RCA's Manhattan
Project). The speculated reason for this about face is that the decision
was made in response to a cover article in the December 31, 1978 issue
of _Fortune_, that although mostly favorable, portrayed Griffiths as
being overly cautious in his approach to technology-based products like
VideoDisc.

From the perspective of VideoDisc collectors, it's probably favorable
that the introduction of the CED system was delayed. The 1977 version
of the CED was limited to 30 minutes per side, and used a 3-layer
design, consisting of a metallized vinyl disc, with a layer of
polystyrene on top. RCA had problems with adhesion, corrosion, and
stylus damage using this "sandwich" construction of dissimilar materials,
so this design in reality was not ready for market introduction. The
delay afforded RCA engineers the opportunity to develop the diamond
stylus, whose smaller dimensions allowed nearly doubling the groove
density to 9,541 grooves/inch. They also developed the carbon-loaded PVC
disc, which eliminated the need for the 3-layer construction. In addition,
the decision was made to house the discs in protective caddies, which in
large measure is why the discs are still usually found in good condition
today.


 

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previous page: 1.12 How does the resolution of CED compare to the VHS, LaserDisc,and DVD video formats?
  
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next page: 1.14 Grooved records containing images and sounds of Earth were placedon the two NASA Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. Were these CED's?