MCA DiscoVision

February 1979

Looking Ahead
Videodisc Mergers?
by David Lachenbruch

Although many different non-compatible videodiscs have been demonstrated, as outlined previously ("Looking Ahead," Videodisc boxscore, November 1978) the multiplicity of these systems may evaporate or dwindle as manufacturers face reality. The optical system, which basically was a compromise between similar Philips and MCA systems, is already being produced by Magnavox (videodisc players) and MCA Disco-Vision(videodisc records) in the United States. In Japan, the joint Japanese-American company, Universal Pioneer, plans to start player production this year.

So the optical system is the one manufacturers wish to stop, if they want to field simpler nonlaser players. Nonlaser systems have been demonstrated by RCA, Matsushita, JVC, Toshiba and Telefunken - the latter now being on limited sale in both Europe and Japan in a 10-minute-per-disc version. The RCA and JVC, versions are capacitance systems. Matsushita and Telefunken are classified as mechanical system. Except for RCA and Toshiba, which are compatible, the systems have little in common except that they're nonoptical. They all use grooved discs (except for JVC) and spin at 450, 900 or 1800 rpm. Even the center-hole diameters are different.

Although it's not official yet, there's strong evidence to suggest an effort will be made to bring all these systems into compatibility before commercializing them. The resulting system - if there is one - is expected to have some features of the optical version, such as being able to provide slow and fast motion but to potentially less expensive in terms of players and perhaps discs. The result could be a sort of "stop-Philips" effort; in event optical vs. nonoptical systems. Although this situation isn't ideal, two "standards" are preferable to five or six.

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