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Laserdisc, or LD, was the industry-wide term for consumer laser video. During its life, the format has also been known as LV (LaserVision) and CDV (Compact Disc Video). The players are also sometimes referred to as VDPs (Video Disc Players) and Sony called them MDPs.

LD was first demonstrated by Philips and MCA in 1972, and was available on the market in 1978, or about as long as the VCR and six years longer than CD. There are more than 1 million players in home use in the US (compared to 85 million VCRs), and more than 4 million in Japan (ten percent of households there). LD has been largely replaced by DVD.

LD had a number of advantages over VHS - a far sharper picture and level of sound quality, with the ability to multiple audio channels, both analog and digital. This allowed "special editions" of movies with extras like director commentaries to be released. Access was random, meaning that one could go to any point on the disk very quickly (depending on the player and the disk, a few seconds at the most). This instant seeking allowed a new breed of laserdisc games, beginning with Dragon's Lair[?], to be born. As the LDs are read optically instead of magneticly, a properly-manufactured LD will theoreticaly last beyond one's lifetime, and as the disks had no moving parts, they were cheaper to manufacture.

The format was not without its disadvantages. The disks were 12 inches across, and were both fragile and heavy. There was no way for home user to record to an LD. Depending on the format, each side of an LD could hold 30-60 minutes worth of footage, and then a disk flip would be required. Most players did this automaticly, but except in high-end models this was accompanied with a pause in the movie of around 10 second, and if the movie is longer then two hours, it eventually required physicaly putting in a second disk. Many early laserdiscs were not manufactured properly, causing the metallic part of the discs to oxidize, eventually destroying the disk in a process known as "laser-rot" (early CDs suffered similar problems).

The format was not well-accepted outside of videophile circles in North America, but became more popular in Japan. Part of the reason was marketing. In North America the cost of the players and disks were kept far higher than VHS to make up for lack of demand. In Japan, LD was marketed like DVD (LD's replacement) was on its release - prices were kept low to ensure adoption, so in Japan an LD and a VHS tape were often identicaly priced. LD quickly became the dominant format-of-choice amongst Japanese collectors of anime.

Although LDs and their players are no longer manufactured, LDs are now considered by many to be collector's items.

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