LaserDisc... the best of times, the worst of times
The optical videodisc was invented by David Paul Gregg in 1958.
The patents for his transparent disc system were eventually sold to Philips in 1969.
Their plan being to begin selling feature-films on laser videodisc.
In order to achieve this goal, Philips joined forces with MCA, and
they decided on a reflective, rather than transparent disc system.
The very first demonstration of MCA/Philips LaserDisc
took place in 1972. During which, the company
officially announced their plans to begin selling movies
on what should have been the very first home-video format.
The most advanced consumer-electronics product that had ever been conceived.
Unfortunately, the next several years would be filled with many scientific,
production and public-relations challenges, ultimately robbing LaserDisc
of the title... 'first home-video format'
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Popular Science Cover
"Here at last, VIDEO-DISC PLAYERS"
These words turned out to be more prophetic,
LaserDisc was still nearly two years away.
Leonard Nimoy Demonstrates LaserDisc
Originally produced as an in-store demonstration tool
for the very first LaserDisc player...
The Magnavox Model 8000.
This program was eventually offered for sale
as a DiscoVision title.
Interestingly, by the time this LaserDisc was released,
the Model 8000 had already been replaced
by the VH-8000.
Magnavox Model 8000 USA
Initially only offered in Atlanta Georgia on
December 15th 1978 (at a list price of $749)
Only 25 were made available. They sold-out immediately.
The first consumer product in history to utilize a laser...
Nearly 5 years before the audio CD...
LaserDisc had finally arrived.
Video Magazine Cover
"The Videodisc Is Here!"
DiscoVision USA 1978/1979
Among the rarest of all DiscoVision pressings...
This very early LaserDisc sports a 1978 copyright.
Yet it's likely that the handful of discs that were made,
didn't begin spinning until sometime in 1979.
However this 1978 LD's real claim-to-fame
is based on Casanova's credit-sequence,
which is presented in widescreen...
Making this LaserDisc the very first example of
letterboxing on any home-video format.
Criterion USA December 1st 1984
The first release in Voyager's prestigious
Criterion Collection (now 27 years and counting).
In addition to being Criterion number one-oh-one...
This was the first 'special edition' home-video.
(Featuring stills/visual essays and the film's trailer)
My LD even includes the following hand-written
information on the reverse side of the box/cover...
"Copy #147 December '84"
MGM/UA USA May 3rd 1985
The very first letterboxed LaserDisc.
Unlike Casanova's credit sequence,
This LaserDisc is letterboxed from it's first frame, to last.
Often incorrectly referenced as the first letterboxed home-video...
RCA's CED edition of Amarcord (released in early '84), and
MGM/UA's VHS edition of Manhattan (mid '84)
both preceded this May '85 LaserDisc in the first
'fully-letterboxed' home-video race. However,
Fellini's Casanova (DiscoVision) had demonstrated true
letterboxed home-video 5 years earlier.
The Abyss Special Edition
Fox USA June 4th 1993
The first THX LaserDisc.
Although rumor has it there may have been a couple
of earlier test pressings to fine-tune the T in THX...
The Abyss Special Edition was the first LaserDisc known
to conform 100% to THX specifications, and it's definitely
the first to carry the "THX LaserDisc" seal of approval.
Night Of The Living Dead
Elite Entertainment USA October 26th 1994
The first release from Elite Entertainment
This was also the first officially-licensed/recognized
home-video version of NOTLD ever offered.
(George Romero personally approved the LaserDisc master)
Clear And Present Danger
Paramount USA January 31st 1995
The very first "Dolby-Digital" home-video, and
The first discrete surround home-video
Actually, Pioneer introduced an experimental Hi-Definition LaserDisc
format in Japan a few months earlier. This technology known as Hi-Vision
(the term for Japanese HDTV) included the MUSE Audio-Coder #3 system...
A more robust version of what would soon become known as...
AC3 and/or Dolby-Digital Although technically first in the discrete
surround home-video race, the player, released in 1994 sold
for $7,000 and required an optional $1,500 decoder to play $300 movies.
This 1035-line resolution (non-anamorphic) LaserDisc was never exported
outside of Japan and even there, only sold to a small number of people that
were willing to pay $8,500 to watch their first High-Definition LaserDisc.
Terminator 2 Judgement Day
Pioneer Japan September 25th 1996
The first anamorphic LaserDisc (based on catalog number).
6 titles were offered between *1996 and 1998.
(*Terminator 2, *Cliffhanger, *Basic Instinct, *Stargate,
Cutthroat Island, and Showgirls). Actually, a 29min test disc (July '95) was
the very first, but this LaserDisc and a later anamorphic dts demo (Dec '98)
were produced specifically for technical/demonstration purposes, and...
only some footage contained on these brief demo discs was squeezed.
4 more anamorphic demo/promo LDs appeared in the USA (in 1997),
strictly to demonstrate Toshiba's new 16X9 projection television
(Free Willy, Fugitive, Grumpy Old Men, and Unforgiven).
However, they were not actual releases, and unlike the previous
Japanese LaserDiscs (which offered discrete surround),
these USA demo/promo LDs only featured matrix surround.
MCA/Universal USA January 15th 1997
The very first dts home-video (based on catalog number).
Actually, The Shadow came out on the same day, but.
how could Alec Baldwin's laugh compete with the sound of an angry
T-Rex, attempting to eat two screaming children?
I think it's safe to say that everyone played Jurassic Park first.
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