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World's First DVD Player

Toshiba acts as the leader of DVD standardization.
The “fire tower” turns into a slim DVD player.

World's First DVD Player

In November 1996, Toshiba introduced the world's first DVD player, the SD-3000, as a result of developments initiated in 1994. At the time, the VHS VCR was dominating the market. Although high-quality laser disks had seen some success for Karaoke use, the disk size of 30 cm in diameter for a single movie was too large. Further, the laser disk used analog video.

The DVD (called SD at the time) produced by Toshiba used digital audio and video could fit an entire movie on a disk the same size as a CD: 12 cm in diameter. This was a revolutionary standard that made possible high audio and video quality and multiple functions. In order to record long video such as that of a movie on a single 12-centimeter disk, it was necessary to make the disks themselves high in density and to use technology to compress the video (MPEG2).

Fortunately, MPEG2 encoders for broadcasting applications had been developed, and Toshiba entered a partnership with Hollywood's Time-Warner in order to ensure a supply of content. Seeking to reduce the data size so that it would fit onto a single disk, while ensuring a level of quality that was acceptable to the professionals from Hollywood, repeated MPEG2 testing was conducted.

Two more requirements from Hollywood were that the price of disks be US $20 or less per title and that each side of a disk be capable of storing 135 minutes of video, in order to cover 90% of the films produced in Hollywood. In order to realize these goals, Toshiba proposed combining two 0.6 mm-thick high density disks to produce one 1.2 mm-thick disk (the same thickness as that of a CD).

In order to verify this unique method, trial player units were produced quickly. At the same time, trial production of disks began in cooperation with Warner Music of the US and Toshiba EMI (what is today EMI Music Japan Inc.). The trial player was called “fire tower” which included a great number of printed circuit boards in layers. Although it did not always operate with stability, it had a major impact on movie studios, computer companies, and the media worldwide, due to its extremely high picture quality and Dolby 5.1-channel Surround Sound. It was demonstrated to members of related industries in Japan with Toshiba strongly encouraging all companies to work together to promote a single DVD standard.

Toshiba's DVD standardization obtained a consensus among the industry and was promoted strongly. Later, Toshiba took the lead in combining the additional ideas of other companies into the DVD format and introduced the first slim DVD player, the SD-3000.

In 2004, terrestrial digital broadcasting was introduced, in addition to previously existing satellite digital broadcasting. Toshiba proposed the new AOD (advanced optical disk) format as a new optical disk medium for the high-definition television system era. It obtained the approval of the DVD Forum and began proceeding with development of this new technology.

Prototype No.1 Fire Tower

Prototype No.1
“Fire Tower”

Prototype No.2  Vanguard

Prototype No.2

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