Below is a timeline for all notable events pertaining to videodisc technology (not including distribution, with the exception of firsts and lasts). It should be noted that this website uses the term, “Home Video,” in two different ways. Firstly, it uses it as an umbrella term for the viewing of movies in the home, physical or otherwise. Secondly, its also the label given to the era in time where movies are being released on physical video formats.
June 2nd, 1993 (Billboard, 1993/06/19, p. 13)
Paramount becomes the first studio to make their films available on Philip’s CD-i format, a system that had launched two years prior. But specifically for movies, Philips had developed a “Green Book” standard version of their disc, which they refer to as CD-i DV (digital video) or Full Motion Video (FMV). Movies are released on the format that November, and require a digital video expansion cartridge (approximately $200) which will allow the system to play the discs.
June 29th, 1993 (Billboard, 1993/07/10, p. 3)
At the Fourth Multimedia Conference in London, Philips, Matsushita, JVC and Sony agree on the “White Book” standard for a new video disc, simply referred to as “Video CD.” The discs use MPEG-1 compression and hold up to 74 minutes per disc. The new format would replace Philip’s current CD-i (DV) format for movies. The discs are playable in either Panasonic’s 3DO system or Philip’s CD-i machines, but both require a digital video expansion card. Movies and standalone Video-CD players won’t be available until the following year.
May 24, 1994 (Billboard, 1993/05/24, p. 38)
Panasonic releases the LX-HD10, the first laserdisc player compatible with the new high-definition (hi-vision) MUSE format. At 1125 lines of resolution, MUSE discs have twice the clarity of standard laserdiscs. In US dollars, the LX-HD10 costs approximately $5,300, with discs themselves costing several hundred dollars. It is the very first high definition format for the home market.
November 1st, 1996 (Billboard, 1996/11/02, p. 8)
Toshiba releases the world’s very first DVD player in Japan for approximately $700. The first two DVD titles released in the region are two “long-form” music videos from artist, Eikichi Yazawa, selling for between $30 and $50.
February, 1997 (Los Angeles Times, 1997/02/07, p. F1)
Sirius Publishing beats DVD to the market with their “MovieCD” discs. The discs offer “near VHS-quality,” and are playable in PCs with a CD-ROM drive. In their first 8 months, they reportedly sell approximately 300,000 discs through computer retail outlets. Their biggest selling point is their playability in laptops, allowing for “movies on the go.”
March 24th, 1997 (Billboard, 1997/04/12, p. 3)
In a soft test launch involving seven U.S. cities, Warner Home Video distributes their first 25 titles on the new DVD format (the first of which is the disaster film, Twister (1996)). Best Buy reveals that within the the first day of the format’s launch, they sold approximately 2,500 Warner DVDs from the 74 stores that carried the format.
June 8th, 1998 (Billboard, 1998/06/13, p. 79)
DIVX discs are launched as an alternative to traditional rental systems. A DIVX disc could be purchased for less than $5 (average price of a rental). Upon playing the disc, he or she would have a 48 hour window to watch the program. They could then extend this viewing period for an additional fee (which required the DIVX player to be connected to the internet via a telephone line). The format was discontinued on June 16th, 1999.
September 21, 2001 (lddb.com)
The last film pressed on the laserdisc format, Tokyo Raiders (2000), is released in Japan. The last American discs were pressed in October 2000 and were Bringing Out the Dead (1999) and Sleepy Hollow (1999).
December 12th, 2004 (China Daily, 2004/12/13, p. 11)
Sony debuts the UMD (Universal Media Disc) format with the launch of their PSP handheld game system in Japan. Spider-Man 2 (2004) is among the titles available with the system’s release. Movies are released on the format up until 2011 with the introduction of the discless PS Vita.
March 28st, 2006 (https://www.cnet.com/culture/toshiba-launches-worlds-first-hd-dvd-player)
Toshiba is the first to release an HD 5-inch disc. Their first players are the HD-A1 ($499) and the HD-XA1 ($749). They delay the roll out in the U.S. until April 18th, when movies will be available on the format.
April 14th, 2006 icv2.com/articles/comics/view/8494/serenity-first-universal-title-hd-dvd
Coinciding with the launch of Toshiba’s HD-DVD players in the US, Warner and Universal release their first titles on the format. They include Million Dollar Baby, The Phantom of the Opera, The Last Samurai and Serenity.
June 15th, 2006 (Business Wire, 2006/06/15, p. 1)
Samsung ships out the very first batch of Blu-ray players to retailers, the BD-P1000. Its cost is $1,000, twice that of Toshiba’s competing player for their HD-DVD format.
June 20th, 2006 (Wall Street Journal, 2006/06/20, p. D1)
The very first titles are released on the new HD format, Blu-ray. They include 50 First Dates (2004), The Fifth Element (1997), Hitch (2005), House of Flying Daggers (2004), Underworld: Evolution (2006) and xXx (2002). The studio will also distribute The Terminator (1984).
January 14th, 2009 (Pioneer Press Release, 2009/01/14)
Due to rising manufacturing costs resulting from the introduction of DVD and Blu-ray, Pioneer announces they would be haulting their production of laserdisc players. “The company has seen worldwide sales of its LD players reach more than 9.5 million units to date in a market that saw worldwide sales top 16.8 million devices.”
February 10th, 2010 https://www.engadget.com/2010-02-10-sonys-200-bdp-s470-is-companys-first-3d-ready-blu-ray-player.html
Sony releases the very first Blu-ray 3-D compatible player, costing ($200). Viewing the movies also requires a 3-D TV and a “Blu-ray 3-D” firmware upgrade.
June 1st, 2010
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009) is the first title to be released on the new Blu-ray 3-D format.
February, 2016 https://www.theverge.com/2016/2/8/10936792/uhd-4k-blu-ray-samsung-player-on-sale
Samsung launches the first player for the new 4k UHD Blu-ray disc. It’s the very first format to offer 4096 x 2160 resolution. The player sells for $250.
February 14th, 2016 https://hd-report.com/2016/02/23/1st-4k-ultra-hd-blu-ray-movies-released-by-sony-pictures/
Sony Home Entertainment releases their first 6 titles on the new 4K UHD format. They include Chappie (2015), Hancock (2008), Pineapple Express (2008), Salt (2010), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) and The Smurfs 2 (2013).