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CED Digest Vol. 6 No. 1  •  1/6/2001


20 Years Ago In CED History:

January 7, 1981:
* Figures published by the U.S. automobile industry showed that
domestically manufactured passenger car sales fell 20% behind the level
of the previous year, making 1980 the industry's worst year since 1961.

January 8, 1981:
* Winter '81 Consumer Electronics Show opens in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Largest Display of VideoDisc Players Marks RCA's Return to CES Show

RCA's return to the Consumer Electronics Show was marked by an 
impressive display devoted totally to the forthcoming introduction 
of the "SelectaVision" VideoDisc system. A series of eight 14-foot 
towers held 84 RCA VideoDisc players in the largest demonstration 
ever of the new medium that provides picture and sound on a disc. 
Eight demonstration areas for public access to the RCA player were 
also part of the display. 

The programming material to be available in RCA's opening catalog 
was displayed on television screens connected to the VideoDisc 
players. Two pylons billboarded the VideoDisc which included 
movies, family entertainment, classics and special interest 

The RCA "SelectaVision" VideoDisc system will be introduced by 
5,000 television dealers in a National Demonstration Week beginning 
March 22. The optional retail price of RCA's initial player will 
be $499.95. The national introduction of "the most important new 
consumer electronic product since color television will mark the 
beginning of a true personal video communications business," Jack 
K. Sauter, vice president and general manager of RCA's Consumer 
Electronics Division has said.

"The change from mass to personal communications will be more 
noticeable as new forms of electronic entertainment reach the 
market. With an important new video product such as the video 
disc player, the hours devoted to video in the home will expand 
because of 24-hour availability of diverse visual entertainment," 
he predicted.

RCA believes that video disc players will appeal to a broad market 
segment "that is interested in affordable, simple-to-operate 
entertainment in the home," Mr. Sauter said. "Our customer for 
video discs is clearly the average family, the same broad segment 
that built the television business to 1980's level of nearly 16
million annual unit sales." Production of the SFT100, RCA's initial 
video disc player, has begun at the company's Bloomington, Indiana 
plant. Video discs have been in production since last summer at 
RCA's Rockville Road facility in Indianapolis. Initial players for 
training purposes have been shipped to RCA distributors. 

Mr. Sauter said RCA's extensive market research indicates that the 
video disc has far more universal appeal than video cassette 
recorders, for example, "because it is family oriented, appeals to 
women as well as men, and spans the entire spectrum of income and 
occupations." The company has forecast that the video disc business 
could grow to $7.5 billion by the end of the 10th year.

The largest advertising and promotional campaign ever scheduled for 
a new RCA product will begin on March 16 to build consumer interest 
in the national introduction of RCA's video disc system the 
following Sunday, March 22. "Ease of use, depth of software and 
affordability will be the key points communicated to the public," 
Mr. Sauter said.

"While the RCA system is based upon extremely esoteric elements of 
electronics and physics, the end result is a product that any 
consumer from 8 to 80 years old can use right out of the shipping 
carton," he said. Providing up to two hours of entertainment on a 
single disc, the RCA "CED" capacitance electronic disc system, 
which has been under development since 1963, is designed to combine 
sound and pictures on a disc that can be played through any brand 
of NTSC television receiver.

As easy to operate as an audio record player, the RCA video disc 
player is extremely compact, weighs but 20 pounds, and uses only 35 
watts of energy. Each "CED" disc can provide up to one hour of 
visual entertainment on each side of the disc. The stylus used in 
the RCA video disc player is so unique that special computer- 
controlled processing equipment had to be devised for its 
manufacture. The stylus tip measures just 1/10,000 of an inch and 
tracking force is extremely light, only 65 thousandths of a gram. 
The high performance "DuraLife" diamond stylus is designed for 
years of service under normal use.

RCA's goal is to establish the "CED" video disc system as a worldwide 
standard for video disc products. To date, color TV brands 
representing over 50 percent of the United States color TV market 
have indicated their intention of introducing video disc players 
based on the RCA system, including Zenith, JC Penney, Sears, Sanyo, 
Toshiba, Hitachi, and Radio Shack. CBS, Inc. has also announced plans 
to manufacture and market "CED" discs.

Mr. Sauter said that RCA's most recent market research study indicated 
over four million American TV households, seven percent of all homes 
with color TV, would be interested in purchasing a video disc player 
during the initial marketing period.RCA expects to sell at least 
200,000 players and two million discs bearing its own brand in 1981.

Noting that black-and-white TV, color TV, and VCR players fell well 
below that figure in their introductory year, Mr. Sauter said video 
disc players "will reach a higher sales level in the first year than 
any other major video product in the history of the industry."

January 9, 1981:
* Thirty people die in Keansburg, NJ when fire destroys a two-story home
for the elderly.
* U.S. Representative Raymond F. Lederer is found guilty on charges of
bribery and Conspiracy relating to the Abscam investigation.
* Future CED titles in widespread theatrical release: Stir Crazy, Seems
Like Old Times.

January 10, 1981:
* Actor Richard Boone dies at the age of 63. Best known for his starring
role in the TV series "Have Gun Will Travel," he also appeared in a
number of CED titles including The Robe, The Alamo, Hombre, The Hobbit
(voice of Smaug), and Winter Kills.

January 12, 1981:
* Television series "Dynasty" with Joan Collins premieres on ABC.

January 13, 1981:
* Soviet Marshall Viktor Kulikov visits Poland, a move outside observers
believe is intended to intimidate the Polish Solidarity labor movement.

From: Wlsnma
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2001 16:08:33 EST
Subject: Re: CED Digest Vol. 5 No. 52

I can absolutely remember when CEDs came out in 1981.  We were living in

American Samoa.  TV was practically non-existent because of the poor 
reception, etc.  Video tape players were out but were horribly
One store in Pago Pago had this heretofore unheard of new CED system and
movies.  The price was much better so we bought it.  We watched the
over and over again - our favorite was MASH.  When we returned to the
we started collecting movies.


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