History of the DVD
History of the DVD
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History of the DVD

By Christian Roemer

Some technologies come along that blast everything that came before them out of the water. For example, flat screen TVs are infinitely better and cooler than previous TVs. Old Televisions were giant, hulking boxes that were sometimes the biggest piece of furniture in the living room. Flat screens came out and made TVs so much better.

Wifi is infinitely better than dial up.
You get the picture.


DVDs are one of those technologies. They are so vastly superior to VHS that it became almost incomprehensible how we ever lived with tapes at all. Not only were DVDs more compact and higher quality, they also had awesome features that VHS couldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. Most DVDs came with special features, and you could skip around from scene to scene. Best of all, you never had to rewind a DVD. Incredible!

But where did this new technology come from? It certainly didn’t come out of thin air! We’re glad you asked, because we put together a quick history of the DVD for your viewing pleasure.


The first ever optical disk storage device was invented. While they weren’t DVDs yet, this technology opened the door for the idea of lasers reading information on a piece of plastic.


A precursor to DVDs was released for the public called LaserDisc. Not many folks bought it because it was way too expensive. Distribution was also a problem.


By now, audio CDs were on the market and beginning to catch on, so it’s only natural that someone wanted to try and put videos on CDs too. The new video format was called Video CDs--or VCD (Hey, they’re inventors, not marketing geniuses!). At first, the videos on VCDs were encoded in analog, but in a couple of years, they learned how to code them digitally instead. This led to....


Two new digital disk coding formats hit the market. One was called MMCD and the other was called SD discs. You can think of this short format battle similar to the Blu Ray and HDDVD apocalypse would come later.


A bunch of folks from the companies who were backing MMCDs and SD Discs got into a room to chat about how to make their formats better. Not wanting to remain embroiled in a long-term battle, they combined their best ideas and created the DVD. What a beautiful compromise!


The DVDs that we know and love are officially released to the public. They make their debut in Japan and quickly spread across the world. VHS tapes everywhere weep.

That’s about it! Interestingly, DVDs aren’t really the brain child of any one particular inventor like most technologies. Instead, they’re the result of collaboration between a bunch of different multinational corporations. If anyone ever tells you that working across our differences is impossible, just point at the DVD and say, “Nuh uh!!!!”

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