Geek Trivia

In The 1960s, RCA Invented A Record That Could Play?

24 Hours of Audio
Video Recordings
Via Laser Beam
With Perfect Fidelity
When Her Reign Is Over, How Do Worker Bees Kill Off The Queen Bee?
A capacitance electronic disc removed from its sleeve
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Answer: Video Recordings

Long before LaserDisc and even longer before DVDs, RCA had a disc-based video system. Invented in the 1960s, RCA’s Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) was truly the middle child of video playback history.

It looked like a record, it shimmered in the light like the surface of an optical disc, and it relied on a needle to playback an analog signal. From a technological standpoint, it was a huge success and marvel. It featured high-quality video for the time (lower-end VHS quality for a 1960s-1970s era format was nothing to laugh at), the movies recorded on it had chapters, the ability to easily skip back and forth throughout the film, and a variety of features unavailable at the time (but standard on later LaserDiscs and DVDs).

Just being a technological marvel isn’t enough, however, and the CED system was a commercial failure. Despite a lead on the competition, support from major movie studios, and support from manufacturing and distribution channels, the system remained largely unknown. Thanks to infighting at RCA, poor marketing, technical difficulties, and the arrival of the LaserDisc, Betamax, and VHS formats, the CED system never took hold and ultimately cost RCA an estimated 600 million dollars in losses.