"Giving you sound and picture through an ordinary TV set - it's what many thought impossible..."

The BBC Archive has unearthed another classic film, this time showcasing the launch of the video disc, a precursor to video tapes and one of the many formats that tried to corner the fledgling home entertainment market.  

Made of thin PVC, the video disc - also known as the Television Electronic Disc - span on a "cushion of air" and was driven round by a motor, meaning the players looked a little like a turntable.

"One problem is that the disc only lasts for five minutes," the film reveals, though it was capable of stopping, starting and replaying your content. Launched in Berlin in 1970, the player was promised to come in under £100, which is more like £1000 in today's money. But then this was cutting-edge tech.


As the clip reveals, there were plenty of competing formats in the pipeline. 

Teleplayer worked with microfilm cartridges and could deliver colour pictures, albeit you'd have to pay £350 for the privilege, while an early 8mm video format is shown delivering video footage to hotel rooms.

But there was a bigger challenger looming... video tape. And sure enough, VHS was soon set to take the world by storm, remaining the video format of choice, right up until the turn of the century.

Read more:

From CRT to VHS: the tech that got left behind

11 heroic tech failures, from Betamax to HD DVD

This BBC film on audiophiles is a masterpiece

CDs and vinyl remain popular, reveals BPI

That Was Then... The first issue of What Hi-Fi?