How did tech pioneer RCA go belly up in the 80s?

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Once I saw the picture, I knew what this was - the old LaserDisc vs Selectavision wars, much like the VHS vs Beta in videotape formats.
This made me look in my closet and go through my very limited LaserDisc collection and much to my surprise, I have the Star Wars Trilogy in Widescreen. Now I have to see if I still have the player to go with it.


Alec from Technology Connections has a five-part (!) series on SelectaVision. It’s quite interesting, and very Technology Connections.


We had one of these because, for reasons unknown, one of the places in our smallish city had a massive collection of discs available to rent. The 80s were an age of wonder and puzzlement.


Wasn’t that the disc format that would freeze frame by mechanically skipping the read head like a record stylus? Lots of oddball engineering choices there.

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How indeed? It’s one of those tales from which Youtubers seem to be getting a lot of mileage as of late.

I’m guessing it’s one of those formats that would be prohibitively expensive to revive one way or another, but someone’s probably thought of it by now.


Other electronic corporations made media formats that flopped. I can remember the Sony Elcaset tapes, or the Philips Video 2000 VCR, or the Philips DCC, or the Grundig cassette.

But they survived a failed format.

Probably because there were other management problems that made the situation worse, and probably because the CED wasn’t the thing that people wanted. Namely recording the last episode of a sitcom while they were outside the home.


The RCA jingle using Tomita’s Pictures at an Exhibition is just gorgeous.

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We had one of those growing up and had the weirdest selection of videos: Phantasm, Rush Exit Stage Left, The Big Chill, etc. I have no idea where my dad got it but he must’ve bought it from someone used with all the discs already.

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