Sunday, 5 June 2016

Capacitance Electronic Disc

Spent an incredibly fun day with my friends Roxann and Ryan on a Saturday a fortnight ago. They had gone out garage sale-ing earlier and Roxann, being a horror buff had grabbed this curiosity. A “Capacitance Electronic Disc”. I have very vague memories of seeing these back when they may have mattered. Developed by RCA in 1964, they were essentially a phonograph record that played images and sound, not just sound. It was two sided, with each side capable of playing about 60 minutes of NTSC video, with about 27,000 frames per side. A special stylus read a high density groove. The disc sat inside a plastic caddy. It’s about +/- 12" by 13".
And a couple of photos I stole off the internet to show the interior. Sorry.
For a variety of reasons, it wasn’t commercially released until 1981, by which point it was competing against LaserDiscs and Betamax and VHS videocassettes. Like I said, I vaguely remember this, but I don’t think anyone I knew had them or the player for them. I was under the impression that it may have been expensive, but apparently RCA meant for this to be a low cost consumer product. Despite that, it never really took off. In the end RCA lost $600 million on this.

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