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!
I ran across this beautiful behemoth over the weekend at my local Goodwill. The RCA SelectaVision was the first VHS VCR sold in the United States, back in 1977. The very first models had two large knobs on the front right of the unit for changing channels. The second version of the unit replaced those knobs with square silver buttons. You can see the buttons on this model, which makes it the 1979 model.
I left my thumb in the photo on purpose just to give you a sense of scale. This thing is gigantic. According to the documentation I found, it weighs around 40 pounds. When it debuted, RCA’s SelectaVision VCR sold for $999. In today’s market, that would be around $3,700.
While I am a firm believer in respecting the past, I love futurism and I am a huge space geek. In fact, a picture of a satellite will stop me in my tracks time and again. So I have no idea what this ad is about, but sign me up RCA.