CD Video 12-inch disc (1988 – 1992)

CD Video (CDV) was a format launched in 1988 by Philips that combined the technologies of the Compact Disc and LaserDisc. Three sizes of CD Video disc were available, the smallest CD Video disc being the same size as a Compact Disc and having audio content that could be played on any Compact Disc player as well as some video content that required a compatible LaserDisc or CD Video player.

The 8-inch size disc contained only video content and was used for music video compilations, with a total capacity of 20 minutes per side. The 12-inch size disc was used for longer music compilations and feature films, and like a standard LaserDisc could hold 60 minutes per side. The only difference between the new CD Video 12-inch disc and the existing LaserDisc format was simply that CD Video had digital audio (it still had analogue video) but this was more a marketing exercise since digital audio had already been introduced by Pioneer in 1984, and Pioneer had produced a series of Compact LaserDiscs in 1986 that had digital audio for music videos.

To distinguish the new CD Video discs from Compact Discs and other LaserDiscs, they were coloured gold.

The new CD Video discs could only be played on the latest LaserDisc players, such as the Pioneer CLD-1010 from 1987, so owners of older LaserDisc players could not play them. Philips launched a player capable of playing all sizes of CD Video disc in 1988 in Europe (the CDV 475), and also launched a smaller machine capable of playing just the 5-inch CD Video discs and audio Compact Discs.

CD Video was not a success and although the LaserDisc format carried on until 2001 mainly promoted by Pioneer, the CD Video name was dropped after a couple of years and Philips along with other collaborators, introduced Video CD in 1993.

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Dynaflex (1971 – late 1970s)

Dynaflex was a type of 12-inch vinyl LP produced by RCA, and introduced in early 1971. It is essentially a very thin LP that was able to flex more without damage, and also claimed to produce a smoother and quieter playing surface.

When introduced, Dynaflex records had a thickness of just 0.03 inches, and a weight of 90 grams (standard LPs were usually around 135 grams).

Their thinness could cause problems with automatic record changers (two discs might drop instead of one for instance) and they needed to be played on a full-size turntable platter otherwise the unsupported section of the record might droop under the weight of the stylus.

There is debate about whether Dynaflex records sound better or worse than standard vinyl, but whatever the truth, RCA stopped using the Dynaflex name sometime in the late 1970s and returned to standard weight vinyl records.

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Akai ¼-inch open reel video tape (1969 – late 1970s)

Akai ¼-inch video tape was an analogue open reel video tape format introduced in 1969. It used helical-scanning and initially only recorded in black and white (a colour video recorder using the tape, the Akai VTS-150, was introduced in 1974).

The first machine to use the format was the Akai VTS-100, a portable video tape recorder with a detachable video monitor and a video camera. An optional RF modulator was available for playback through a standard television set.

Video resolution was 200 lines, and the system was aimed at the consumer market. One advantage over other domestic video tape recorders that used ½-inch wide tape (such as the EIAJ-1 ½-inch format) was that tape for the Akai system was much cheaper. A number of different companies produced tape for the Akai format.

Most of the tape was on plastic 5-inch reels with cine spindle hubs but the VT-700, a stationary video tape recorder introduced by Akai in the early 1970s, could accommodate 10.5-inch NAB hub reels of ¼-inch video tape as well.

Tapes recorded on the later colour VTS-150 are not compatible with tapes recorded on black and white models due to differences in tape speed.

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Digital-S / D-9 (1995 – early 2000s)

Digital-S (or D-9) was a professional digital video tape cassette format introduced by JVC in 1995.

The cassette shell was very similar to JVC’s VHS format, but despite this Digital-S is not compatible with the later consumer D-VHS format as the tape formulation and data format are different.

Digital-S competed with other professional formats such as DVCAM, DVCPRO and Digital Betacam, and was a commercial failure. However, it saw some use in the US, Asia, and Europe, including at the BBC.

Digital-S was given the designation D-9 by the SMPTE in 1999. A high-definition version, D-9 HD, was announced but doesn’t appear to have been launched.

D-9 doesn’t appear to have lasted much beyond the early 2000s.

Sources / Resources

CD Video 8-inch disc (1988 – 1992)

CD Video (CDV) was a format launched in 1988 by Philips that combined the technologies of the Compact Disc and LaserDisc. Three sizes of CD Video disc were available, the smallest CD Video disc being the same size as a Compact Disc and having audio content that could be played on any Compact Disc player as well as some video content that required a compatible LaserDisc or CD Video player.

The 8-inch size disc contained only video content and was used for music video compilations, with a total capacity of 20 minutes per side. The 12-inch size disc was used for longer music compilations and feature films, and like a standard LaserDisc could hold 60 minutes per side. The only difference between the new CD Video 8-inch disc and the existing LaserDisc 8-inch disc was simply that CD Video had digital audio (it still has analogue video) but this was more a marketing exercise since digital audio had already been introduced by Pioneer in 1984, and Pioneer had produced a series of Compact LaserDiscs in 1986 that had digital audio for music videos.

To distinguish the new CD Video discs from Compact Discs and other LaserDiscs, they were coloured gold.

The new CD Video discs could only be played on the latest LaserDisc players, such as the Pioneer CLD-1010 from 1987, so owners of older LaserDisc players could not play them. Philips launched a player capable of playing all sizes of CD Video disc in 1988 in Europe (the CDV 475), and also launched a smaller machine capable of playing just the 5-inch CD Video discs and audio Compact Discs.

CD Video was not a success and although the LaserDisc format carried on until 2001 mainly promoted by Pioneer, the CD Video name was dropped after a couple of years and Philips along with other collaborators, introduced Video CD in 1993.

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Centre-start phonograph record (1905 – )

Centre-start (or inside-start) phonograph records date back as far as 1905 with the Pathé vertical-cut disc record, that in addition to other unusual features such as being vertically rather than laterally cut and running at 90rpm, required the stylus to be placed in the area that on other records would be the run-out grooves. In 1915, Pathé switch to a more conventional outside-start.

Later, Electrical transcription discs (1920s – 1980s) often used centre-starts, sometimes on both sides and sometimes alternating with an outside-start on the second side, possibly to reduce changes in sound quality between the end of one side and the start of the other. As the stylus moves to the centre of a record, the linear groove speed decreases and there can be more ‘end-groove distortion’.

Since then, centre-start records have tended to be uncommon, and were usually used as a novelty or promotional feature. A couple of examples include King Kurt’s Destination Zululand 12-inch single (1983) and more recently Jack White’s Lazaretto 12-inch LP (2014), which had a centre-start on side one.

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Brother Micro Disc (mid 1980s)

The Brother Micro Disc was a floppy disc for use in the standalone Brother MD-200 disk drive for use with certain Brother electronic typewriters.

It consists of a 2.5-inch flexible disc in a carrier (rather like a 5.25-inch minifloppy disc). The discs are two-sided, and the cover of the disk leaves a large portion of the magnetic surface exposed when the disk is not in its paper envelope.

The format doesn’t appear to have been very common

 

 

EV Stereo-4 (1970 – 1975)

The EV Stereo-4 system (also known as EV-4) was a matrix quadraphonic format, developed by Leonard Feldman and Jon Fixler in 1970 and taken up by Electro-Voice as the first commercial quadraphonic system for vinyl records.

A handful of record labels used the system, including Ovation, Project 3 and Quad-Spectrum, and RadioShack sold compatible decoders and systems in the US.

EV Stereo-4 emphasises front (left to right) and front-to-rear separation, but there is less separation between the two rear channels.

In 1973 Electro-Voice introduced a decoder that could also play SQ and QS quadraphonic records with good results, but despite this Stereo-4 was pushed out of the market by these other systems and nothing appears to have been released on EV Stereo-4 after 1975.

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Yamaha Playcard (1982 – mid 1980s)

The Yamaha Playcard was a system used by several Yamaha electronic keyboards to playback music. The cards consisted of a large card (a bit smaller than A4 size) with musical notation, and a magnetic stripe on the lower edge. The stripe was read by swiping the card through a slot on the back of the keyboard (which could also act as a holder for the piece of music). The keyboard could then either playback the music, or play an accompaniment and the user could play the tune by following the music or pressing the keys that were lit by an LED.

Playcards were introduced around 1982 and were used by the PC-100 as well as some other models of Yamaha keyboards. The system was not used by any other keyboard manufacturers.

A number of different themed sets of Playcard were available, covering genres such as popular songs, classics, standards and show tunes. Judging by the songs included, Playcards don’t seem to have lasted beyond the mid-1980s.

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Soundmirror (1948 – 1954)

Soundmirror tape (also known as ‘magic ribbon tape’) was a magnetic tape format for use on the Soundmirror tape recorder made by Thermionic Products in the United Kingdom. What was unusual about it was that was made of paper with an oxide coating rather than the standard plastic tape.

Thermionic introduced the Soundmirror tape recorder in late-1948 under licence from the Brush Development Company in the US, after introducing the Recordon dictation disc (also made of paper) earlier in the year. The Soundmirror machine became the first domestic tape recorder on the UK market.

While the Recordon disc was aimed at the dictation market, the Soundmirror format was aimed at longer duration recording such as concerts, meetings and lectures. The tape ran at 7.5 inches per second on a maximum reel size of 7-inches, so allowing up to around 30 minutes of recording.

Production of the Soundmirror continued until 1954 by which time acetate (and later polyester) had become the standard magnetic tape base material.

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