LaserDisc format Turns 40!

In honor of our beloved format hitting a milestone birthday, here's a little history on LaserDisc!

LaserDisc (abbreviated as LD) is a home video format and the first commercial optical disc storage medium, initially licensed, sold and marketed as MCA DiscoVision in the United States in 1978.

LaserDisc was first available on the market, in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 11, 1978, two years after the introduction of the VHS VCR, and four years before the introduction of the CD (which is based on laser disc technology). Initially licensed, sold, and marketed as MCA DiscoVision (also known as simply DiscoVision) in 1978, the technology was previously referred to internally as Optical Videodisc System, Reflective Optical Videodisc, Laser Optical Videodisc, and Disco-Vision (with a hyphen), with the first players referring to the format as Video Long Play.

Pioneer Electronics later purchased the majority stake in the format and marketed it as both LaserVision (format name) and LaserDisc (brand name) in 1980, with some releases unofficially referring to the medium as Laser Videodisc. Philips produced the players while MCA produced the discs. The Philips-MCA collaboration was unsuccessful – and was discontinued after a few years. Several of the scientists responsible for the early research (Richard Wilkinson, Ray Dakin and John Winslow) founded Optical Disc Corporation (now ODC Nimbus).

In 1979, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago opened its "Newspaper" exhibit which used interactive LaserDiscs to allow visitors to search the front page of any Chicago Tribune newspaper. This was a very early example of public access to electronically stored information in a museum.

In 1984, Sony introduced a LaserDisc format that could store any form of digital data, as a data storage device similar to CD-ROM, with a large 3.28 GiB storage capacity, comparable to the later DVD-ROM format.

The first LaserDisc title marketed in North America was the MCA DiscoVision release of Jaws on December 15, 1978. The last title released in North America was Paramount's Bringing Out the Dead on October 3, 2000. 

By 2001, LaserDisc had been completely replaced by DVD in the North American retail marketplace. Players were still exported to North America from Japan until the end of 2001. Production of LaserDisc players continued until January 14, 2009, when Pioneer stopped making them.