Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Clicking it Old School, Part Three

Capacitance Electronic Disc

I wasn't sure how often I was going to post on this subject (Refer to my posts from May 24 and May 31) but I recently came across info on an old piece of technology, the capacitance electronic disc (CED).  For those who don't remember, the CED, informally known as the videodisc and marketed by RCA as SelectaVision, was an early form of home video rental that only lasted a few years in the 1980s.  They were like vinyl records encased in a rectangular caddy that was inserted into the player which then extracted the disc and played it with a stylus like those on old vinyl record players.  This is as much as I've learned about this old format.  More info can be found here.

Despite not having been a user of CEDs, I nevertheless have some vague memories of this old video format. My mom did rent a CED player and some concert CED from a local video store  for my birthday one year, 1985, a year before the CED went off the market.   And my aunt and uncle had a CED player.   And I vaguely remember how big and heavy the discs were. I was, like many, a VHS renter before DVDs became the dominant medium.   CED, it's said, was trumped in popularity by  VHS and Beta, both of which were recordable, unlike CED. Laser Discs lasted a little longer than the competing CED format.  And VHS won over Beta.  

Here's a recent article about the CED player.  Below is an image of CED exposed from its  protective caddy.

Capacitance Electronic Discs Star Wars FOX

And above is a photo of the classic "Star Wars" on CED. 

I could not have seen myself using these things regularly.  As heavy as they were said to be, I imagine just getting them off the rental store shelf would have been a bit of work. And when it came time to return them to the store--I imagine the size and structure of these things would have made it dangerous to leave them in a drop slot.  Thank god we were able to drop off VHS tapes that way and now the same for DVDs, though I'm now a Netflix user so I rarely go to video stores anymore and now only have to find a mailbox to return my DVDs anytime I want (usually my own mailbox!) The VHS/DVD drop slots at Blockbuster came in handy when I didn't have time to rent another film.   But I shudder to think how I would have had to lug a heavy disk into the rental store just to return it and then rush out if I didn't have time to rent another disc.

1 comment:

  1. My friends parents actually bought one of these players and a few discs to boot. They were huge and if I remember correctly you had to flip them at a point for movies. The cool thing was that there were episodes of syndicated cartoons available in this format before VHS, which would have been a bonus for me back int he day.