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Featured CED VideoDisc No. 15 - Winter 2000


Breaking Away

Breaking Away CED This movie was filmed entirely on location in Bloomington Indiana, the location of RCA's CED player manufacturing plant, and is the only CED where the setting takes place in one of the three CED manufacturing cities in the United States. The movie was filmed during the summer of 1978, with the climatic Little 500 bicycle race being the last scene completed in September 1978 after the Indiana University students had returned to school and could be extras in the racing arena stands. To put that in a historical CED perspective, RCA chairman Edgar Griffiths made the final decision to proceed with the introduction of the CED system in January 1979, and the company began development of its Bloomington and Indianapolis Rockville Road facilities at that time.

Part of the plot of this movie concerns limestone cutting in quarries around Bloomington, and this relates to the city's later experience with the loss of RCA's electronic manufacturing facilities. The glory days of limestone cutters were in the 1920's, and by the 1940's nearly all the jobs were gone. The father of the principle character in the movie, who now has a used car lot, often reminisces about his days as a "cutter," which is a pejorative the college students in the film apply to the local population. The abundant cheap labor that came with the loss of the stone cutting livelihood was the main reason RCA moved from Camden, NJ to Bloomington in 1940, and cheap labor in Mexico was the reason behind their gradual departure from Bloomington that began in 1968 and was finally completed (by Thomson) in 1998. The history of RCA's 70 year quest for cheap labor is well-documented in the recently published book Capital Moves. RCA initially announced the relocation of CED player manufacture to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico in March 1984, but only a month later the Board of Directors decided to cancel player manufacture altogether.

The remainder of this CED feature provides maps showing the locations of the CED manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The RCA disc plant was located 50 miles Northeast of Bloomington in Indianapolis and was simply called "Rockville Road" by RCA employees in reference to the highway the plant bordered. While preparing this page I did a web search on Rockville Road and was pretty surprised when one of the first matches that came up was a page from a realty company offering the plant for sale. In addition to the maps, there are also "now" and "then" photographs showing the Rockville Road plant.


Click on the maps below to open versions that can be zoomed


Map showing Bloomington and Indianapolis Indiana Bloomington and Indianapolis Indiana.
This map shows the general location of RCA's CED facilities in central Indiana. The CED player assembly plant in Bloomington was about 50 miles to the Southwest of the RCA disc pressing facility in Indianapolis.



Map showing the intersection of W RCA Dr. and S Rogers St., the site of the CED player plant RCA CED player plant at the intersection of W RCA Dr. and S Rogers St. in Bloomington.
The plant ceased manufacture of CED players in mid 1984, but the facility was used by RCA (later GE and Thomson) for other manufacturing purposes until April 1998 when operations were transferred to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The book Capital Moves provides a detailed history of RCA's operations in Bloomington Indiana.



Map showing the RCA disc pressing plant at 7900 Rockville Road RCA disc pressing plant at 7900 Rockville Road in Indianapolis.
The disc plant continued pressing operations until June 27th, 1986 and was used as a liquidation facility for a while after that. The facility was being offered for sale/lease by Summit Realty Group of Indianapolis when this CED Feature was written in January 2000.

On a side note, most collectors know that a CED can be thought of in simple terms as a variable plate in a capacitor, and just down the road from the disc pressing plant at 7545 Rockville Road is North American Capacitor Company.



RCA disc pressing plant as it appeared in the 1999-2001 time frame RCA disc pressing plant as it appeared when offered for sale/lease in the 1999-2001 time frame.
This photo is from the Summit Realty Sales Page. The page indicates that the large building has upwards of 525,000 square feet of space, with an additional 36,000 square foot office building (which were the RCA administrative offices). The office building is the elongated rectangular building in front of the large plant building. This picture shows the plant looking to the Southwest with Rockville Road being the wide road visible in the background.



RCA disc pressing plant as it appeared in the early 1980's RCA disc pressing plant as it appeared in the early 1980's.
This photo is from the CED Memories of VideoDisc and shows the plant looking to the North across Rockville Road. It hasn't really changed that much in the intervening years.



Map showing RCA's corporate facilities in Indianapolis RCA corporate facilities (now Thomson) at 600 N Sherman Drive in Indianapolis.
This is the address printed on the back of RCA's CED players, and it's still printed on the back of RCA branded products today.



Map showing Atlanta, GA with the adjacent cities of Carrollton and Athens Carrollton Georgia to the West of Atlanta, where the CBS disc pressing plant was located.
The movie "Breaking Away" was followed by a short-lived TV Series of the same title that was filmed in Athens, GA just to the East of Atlanta. This is interesting because the CBS disc pressing plant was located just to the West of Atlanta in Carrollton. This was the only facility besides Rockville Road that ever pressed CED's. During the CED Era, CBS was manufacturing their vinyl LP's in Carrollton, so the CED facility was just a small portion of the giant LP plant. When CBS stopped pressing CED's in mid 1984 the facility went back to LP operations, as there was still a considerable demand for these in the early days of the compact disc.


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