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Optical video disk

SRI’s prototype optical recorder

In 1961, the 3M Company realized that the surface of a phonograph record was smooth enough and had enough resolution to carry full-bandwidth television signals. The company asked SRI to determine the feasibility of making television discs from the technology.

After considering alternatives, SRI concentrated on optical recording on high-resolution photographic plates using light from a high-pressure mercury arc. SRI went on to successfully demonstrate the first video disk recording/playback system in 1963.

The work helped pave the way for modern optical storage technologies such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.

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