Ed Driscoll

HOW THE DVD WAS WON:

Shop at Amazon.comHOW THE DVD WAS WON: Ever wonder how your DVDs ended up with the features they have? Things like chapter encoding, programmable menus, letterboxing? And those bonus features like movie trailers, still photos, directors’ commentaries, and the like?

No? OK, you’re forgiven. But the million or two of us who owned laser disc players in the 1980s got to see a sneak preview of what 57 million people in the US and Canada take for granted these days.

In the summer, for my bi-monthly column at Nuts & Volts, I wrote an article called “How The DVD Was Won”. (Why yes, I did have the name of a certain new Led Zeppelin CD going through my head when I titled it. What can I say? Pop culture R us.) It details how the Criterion Collection, which still exists, and is a major player in the DVD market, virtually singlehandedly invented the DVD format–except that they used 12-inch double sided laser discs.

And they did it in 1984.

It’s a fun article. It’s even got photos of a few actual Criterion laser discs! Taken from my actual collection! Photographed on my actual living room carpet! (Sorry–I realize that’s just too much excitement for the average person to take. Rest assured, those with weak hearts should avoid this thrill packed journey into 1980s American ingenuity at its finest! But for everyone else, it’s the “it” article of the year. Particularly if you like DVDs, or were among the handful of film geeks hip cognoscenti who owned a laser disc player.)

My copy arrived today. Yours should be available at your local Borders or Barnes & Noble any day now.

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