RCA SelectaVision - Movies on Records
By James Grahame
RCA introduced the SelectaVision format in 1981. It has the distinction of being one of the last consumer electronic standards developed entirely in the USA. Movies were encoded on large VideoDiscs that were read mechanically using a replaceable stylus.
VideoDiscs were encased in plastic sleeves because they were extremely susceptible to dust and contamination. Technically the format compared well to VHS tape -- about 240 lines of resolution. Each side held a maximum of 60 minutes of video, requiring a flip halfway through a feature film.
The format was discontinued in 1984 after selling about 500,000 units. VideoDiscs were probably doomed by their short playing time and inability to record -- most households chose tape-based VHS recorders instead.
There's still a thriving online community of collectors who buy, sell, and trade old players and movies, although none have been produced since the mid-1980s.
RCA SelectaVision FAQ (CED Magic)