South West England Vintage Television Museum
Philips LaserVision

Philips LaserVision was a remarkable innovation. It was one of a few rival disc formats of the era including it's biggest rival in the UK, the CED (Capacitance Electronic Disc) format. Unlike CED which used a stylus for tracking, the LaserVision player used a beam of laser light to read broadcast quality analogue video information from a silver disc in a similar way to which a normal CD or DVD player does today.

The discs that were used in the player looked like huge compact discs. They were 12 inches in diameter, and could be played on both sides. There were two different types of disc depending on the application. The first type was called Active Play; this type could only store about half an hour of video per side, but had perfect still pause, perfect slow motion and perfect reverse play etc. The second type of disc was the long play format; this could store about an hour of video per side, but had no trick play facilities. Both types of disk had picture search however.

Philips VLP700
The Philips VLP700

Obviously Philips had big ideas for their new format. The advertising disc that Philips dealers had, claimed that within a few years the players would be everywhere, in homes, in schools and colleges, in hospitals. It even reckoned that mail order catalogues and books would be sent to you on Laser Disc.

Although it was never really accepted as a main stream video format, there has always been a following of enthusiasts, and up until a few years ago, recent release films could still be obtained from mail order companies. (Although in their slightly modified digital sound format.)

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