|The SGT250. The first stereo player RCA released.|
As a fan of vintage (outdated) media, I always enjoy coming across something old that is somewhat new to me. Recently the media gods smiled upon me and have delivered unto me a machine that has transported me backwards in time to the year of 1982.
The RCA SGT-250 is a marvel of video engineering. This
large, bulky tank of a unit is a CED player or Videodisk player as RCA dubbed
it. It plays a CED which is an capacitance electronic disc. The disc is much
like a vinyl record that so many of us grew up listening to before cassette and
eventually Compact Disc took over our musical lives. The disc is made up of PVC
and carbon and coated with silicone (basically). It is grooved like a record
but the grooves are much closer together. When inserted in the player, the disc
is placed upon a platter and spun. The disc is read by a needle much like on a
record player but smaller. This transfers the audio and video from the disc and
to your television. Pretty cool right? Each side holds 60 minutes of audio and
video and must be flipped (like a record) if what you are watching lasts over
that time period. RCA manufactured this media for consumers from 1981 to 1986.
|My SGT250 enjoying a "Fantastic Voyage".|
The one thing that I have fallen in love with about the videodisc is the fantastic artwork that was used on many releases. The artwork was printed onto a label that was then attached to the “caddy”. The caddy is the plastic “sleeve” that the disc is kept in. The caddy also had a spine which the disc sat in inside the caddy until you slid the caddy into the machine and the machine grabs the spine and holds it when you remove the caddy from the machine. This way you cant touch the surface and get it all cruddy. And believe me you don’t want to! This was a big problem with the format. Dings, scratches or crushed grooves (from storing the discs flat and on top of each other) causes the image and sound to skip, drop out and present all sorts of viewing problems and sometimes great damage to the needle. So what was I talking about? Oh yeah the artwork!
Much of the artwork used on the caddys was very much the same as their theatrical poster cousins. Unlike the VHS artwork which is compact, videodisc artwork is like LP artwork, big! You have a bigger canvas to present which lets you really take in the great artwork on these releases. RCA took it upon themselves to tie in the fact that the format was circular in shape and incorporated a “ring” around the artwork. This seems to be present in all the titles that RCA released with their logo on the front. Other companies jumped into the “new” format including Vestron Video, Thorn/EMI, MGM and CBS FOX. What CBS FOX did in this format was quite interesting. It seems that they licensed titles to RCA and then at some point jumped into the fray and released those same titles with alternate artwork and their own logo. I really don’t know what drove this but it makes life interesting for those who might want both the RCA and CBS FOX release of the same title. You see we collectors can get batty with this stuff and we want every release of one certain title, we’ve a screw loose somewhere when it comes to this stuff.
Speaking of titles, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 titles released on videodisc. At first scratch of the surface I felt that all you could get out of this were big name films such as Star Wars, The Ten Commandment and the James Bond films. I quickly learned that simmering under the main stream surface of movies were some slick and sleazy exploitation and horror titles!
There is your standard fare of horror like Friday the 13th, Halloween II and Alien but the more I started pouring over the database of titles (thanks to cedmagic.com) I came across some odd ball stuff like Eroticize, Caligula and Emanuelle in Bangkok. The horror titles also include some classic gore such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Zombie (YES FULCI!!) which were released from Wizard Video through Vestron Video distribution. Oh and in case you are wondering, yes there are a few more Wizard titles on CED such as The Boogeyman, Slave of the Cannibal God and I Spit on Your Grave.
|Flippin' Wizard Video!|
cedmagic.com for tons of info and a huge database of titles!