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RCA Press Release for January 8, 1981


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

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8 -- 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 programs.

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."


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