RCA SelectaVision Video Discs

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RCA

Capacitance Electronic Discs, or CEDs, were more commonly known as “videodiscs.” Although they looked like laser discs, they have more in common with their analog cousin, the vinyl record. Like albums, RCA’s videodiscs were physically read by a needle and were good for “about 500 plays,” according to RCA. These discs became commonly known as RCA SelectaVision discs, which was mildly confusing to consumers as RCA also used the SelectaVision moniker early VCR models as well.

Each disc was able to hold 60 minutes of video per side for a total of 120 minutes. For movies more than two hours in length, scenes were often trimmed or sped up to get the film to fit. RCA released their SelectaVision player in 1981, but without the ability to record like a VCR and inferior quality when compared to laser discs, SelectaVision never really had a chance. RCA cancelled the production of players in 1984, and disc production stopped two years later.

One of our local thrift stores recently set out on display a large collection on SelectaVision discs, as you can see above. I haven’t been able to track down a player yet, but if those discs are an example of the types of movies you can find on this format, count me in!


9 Responses to RCA SelectaVision Video Discs

  1. GuitarAnthony says:

    Wow, can’t say I’ve every heard of these before. It’s possible I saw them when I was a kid but didn’t know what the entailed. A limited use medium would probably be greatly loved by the media corporations of today to force people to keep re-buying movies. Still, 500 uses really isn’t so bad when you think about it.

  2. Doug says:

    You mean I can only watch Harold and Maude 500 times. What a rip off!

  3. Glonch says:

    My sister had these back in the day… I was so curious on how they worked.

  4. DBenson says:

    I went with these because players and discs were cheaper than VHS; then the price of VHS players dropped.

    On the downside they were fragile and could scratch easil. You had to remove them and flip them over by hand. And it quickly became apparent VHS was offering a far greater selection of titles along with recording ability.

    On the plus side, there were a few oddball titles that took their time coming to VHS and DVD, including some collections of MGM, Disney and Lantz shorts. And you could record them onto VHS (I put an old movie on tape for a girl, and was able to put a cartoon from another disc before the feature).

    Still, it was a pretty big deal for someone whose collection previously was limited to 8mm silents.

  5. Dudley88 says:

    Selectavision wasn’t the first costly mistake made by RCA (they lost about $600 million on the thing). Does anybody else remember the RCA Studio II video game console from 1977? That thing was already obsolete when it hit store shelves.

  6. Andrew says:

    I have never heard of these specifically. Perhaps this is an offshoot of a similar device available in the late 70s that played movie discs. Awesome stuff, especially for the time period!! The only other time I have heard of Select-a-Vision was a service my brother told me about it as part of the cable package we had in the early 80s; it was akin to HBO. I found the link for the device,

  7. plcary says:

    I made many trips to the video store to rent these ced movies and rent a player as well. I have a storage tub full of horror and scifi ceds that i have collected. Just trying to think of a good way to display them. That flea market display is exactly how the video store displayed them.

  8. I have a few. And have given a few out as gifts. There’s some Reddit peeps on the horror board that are SERIOUS collectors

  9. Alphacentaurian says:

    I remember we would rent the player and disks from the local catalogue store (Consumers Distributing ). A lot of the Charlie Brown cartoons would come out on the disks, so I was naturally a fan. I remember Gahndi taking up 4 disks. I also recall first seeing Brainstorming on SelectaVision as well.

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