Mca Demonstrates New Disco-Vision for Use on Standard Home TV Sets

American Cinematographer, February 1973 | Go to article overview

Mca Demonstrates New Disco-Vision for Use on Standard Home TV Sets


Long-awaited breakthrough of low-cost, high-quality video discs is most impressively launched at press premiere showing in Hollywood

At Universal City, California, on December 12, 1972, MCA Inc. presented a star-filled video disc entertainment at the first public showing of its new DISCO-VISION system.

More than 300 press and industry executives viewed color and black-andwhite excerpts from Universal's vast film library shown via DISCO-VISION on the screens of a variety of home television sets.

The presentations were made to approximately 150 members of the press at 11:30 a.m. and a similar number of entertainment, retailing and electronic manufacturing executives at 4 p.m. at Universal's Stage 24.

In addition to ending years of industry speculation on when and how the showing of films on home television sets could be achieved at popular prices, the demonstrations that day took on additional stature with the attendance of the MCA Inc. Board of Directors in advance of a regular Board meeting.

Lew R. Wasserman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MCA Inc., welcomed the guests at both viewings "to share in MCA's progress report on the research and development of our company's new technology." The demonstration, he pointed out, was not a consumer introduction.

The DISCO-VISION presentation included seven minutes of scenes from 22 musicals, comedies and dramatic motion pictures from Universal's immense film library of more than 11,000 titles, encompassing the years 1930 to 1972, and featuring many of the top stars of those years.

The audiences saw the DISCOVISION program on brand-name standard home TV receivers.

Preceding each of the demonstrations. John W. Findlater, MCA Vice President and President of MCA Disco-Vision, Inc., described the new home entertainment and information storage and retrieval process, its research, development and history to date. His remarks were as follows:

We believe we've achieved the ultimate concept in home entertainment and information storage and retrieval systems, and that both the hardware and the software will be sold to the consumer at popular prices.

These replicated discs are capable of storing 40 billion bits of information, permitting up to 40 minutes of playing time per side. In fact, it's possible to store the Social Security number of every person in the United States on just one side of one disc!

You'll view the disc- one of which I'm holding and another of which you see on the player there- today on standard-brand TV sets which we purchased from local retailers.

MCA DISCO-VISION is the first optically-read system to be demonstrated from a replicated disc. We are not working from a master. What you'll see is an end-product demonstration of the disc itself.

MCA DISCO-VISION is the first disc system to demonstrate more than five minutes of programming.

Today, we're highlighting the entertainment aspects of DISCO-VISION, although there are numerous additional applications for this technology, giving DISCO-VISION an enormous range of business, educational and other uses.

The replicated demonstration disc you'll see is a composite of scenes from 22 Universal films- both color and black-and-white, ranging from 1930 to 1972 productions. These subjects span the entire historical spectrum of changing film technology, from the old black-and-white nitrate negatives of the 30's to Technicolor's three-strip nitrate negatives, culminating in Kodak's color negative of the 70's. The ability to produce a balanced uniform print from this heterogeneous mixture of widelydivergent film sources, each with its own different color balance and contrasts, and to transfer each to our replicated disc, confirms the disc's versatility.

Both the seven-minute running time and the selection of the 22 titles were arbitrary decisions. We could just as well have chosen 8, 10, 15 or 20 minutes of programming. …

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