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CED in the History of Media Technology


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Thomson CSF Transmissive VideoDisc Player

1980: Thomson-CSF Transmissive VideoDisc System

The Thomson-CSF VideoDisc system, developed in France, was brought to market in January 1980 for educational and industrial customers. In contrast to LaserDisc, the Thomson-CSF system was transmissive rather than reflective. The discs were 12-inches in diameter, housed in a caddy like CED, and quite flexible and thin - only 6 mils or 0.006 inches thick. The discs rotated at 1800RPM for NTSC playback and 1500RPM for PAL playback. The discs held 50,000 frames per "side", but with the system being transmissive, both "sides" of the disc could be read without flipping it over, yielding immediate access to 100,000 frames. This was considerably higher than the 54,000 available on LaserDisc, as this was years before LaserDisc players with flippable playback sensors became available. Since the Thomson-CSF discs had 4,000 fewer frames per side compared to LaserDisc, play time was limited to 28 minutes per side for the CAV implementation of the system. another contrast with LaserDisc was that the light source and detector were on opposite sides of the disc.

The industrial player marketed by Thomson-CSF was model number TTV3620, and it sold for $3,500. Thomson-brandt had a consumer CLV player under development which would have permitted the continuous viewing of a two hour movie. Zenith was interested in marketing this player in the United States, and Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing announced it would replicate Thomson discs. But in 1981 Thomson ceased manufacture of the system and exited the VideoDisc marketplace. In 1987, General Electric (GE), which had absorbed RCA in 1986, sold the RCA consumer electronics business to the French-government owned Thomson, so RCA-branded equipment today is in fact manufactured by Thomson Consumer Electronics.


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