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Thread: Niche Technology

  1. #1
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    Default Niche Technology

    There are a few audio - visual formats that didn't quite become common, but didn't totally flop either.

    Here's a few I can think of

    Quadrophonic records

    8-Track cartridges

    U-Matic video tapes

    N-1500 & derived formats

    Laserdisks

    Digital Audio Tapes

    Minidiscs

    I'm sure there are some more.
    The Trickster On The Roof

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Video 2000

    Reel to Reel tape

    Pixelvision (video on audio cassettes)

    DCC Philips digital compact cassettes

    CED videodisc (always wanted one of these!)
    http://Retrogameprices.co.uk I collect game prices for retro consoles from eBay

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Reel to reel tape was the standard format from around the time of WW2 up until the late '60s; it was popular alright, as it was the only tape technology that was available then, but since the advent of the tape cassette it rapidly became obsolete for entertainment uses. However, it was used by the media up until only about 10 years ago- my sister is a journalist and used to have her own Revox reel-to-reel tape recorder up until the late '90s, as editing tape was easier in those days than doing digital editing.
    Likewise, 8-track cartridge cassettes were very popular in the early '70s because they were the cheapest form of compact tape on the market (conventional cassettes were around but were much more expensive back then). The limitation of the 8-track was that you couldn't record on them, only play back, which is why they had such a short lifespan. But it wasn't that these technologies weren't popular, they very much WERE in their day- it's just that they have been superceded so totally that people tend to imagine that they never caught on, which they DID.
    The videodisc of the early '80s was an enigma, as essentially they were pretty much the same as DVDs- the technology was the same, both are read by laser, it's just that the videodisc was larger (the same size as a vinyl LP) and, once again, could only be played back and not recorded on. But when they first appeared c.1981, videodisc players were half the price of video-cassette machines and are now highly sought after on eBay. Never be fooled into thinking that DVDs are a super new 21st century innovation- the technology has been around for over 30 years!!
    In the early '80s, there was a great struggle for supremacy between VHS and BetaMax format for video cassettes- VHS eventually won, but BetaMax was the preferred option for news organisations, and the media still use BetaMax cassettes to this day (for this reason, BetaMax video cameras and players that pop up on eBay now and again are not as expesnive as you might think).
    Quadrophonic records? Hmmm, yes, they never took off as one might've expected- I think the reason for THAT one was because most consumers of the time could not afford the hi-fi systems that would've played them to their best advantage, so it didn't really make any difference to them whether the album they were buying was quadrophonic or not. They fetch a bit on the collector's market these days, mind you.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Ignoring the erroneous information above- Roxxy, CED videodisc is certainly not the same as a DVD, it's more akin to a vinyl album, no lasers involved- anyone have any pricing info on CED players? There is nothing online and nothing has sold on eBay that I can find. I have found a working player and 100+ discs and knowing the seller he'll want me to decide the price.
    http://Retrogameprices.co.uk I collect game prices for retro consoles from eBay

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    I remember people talking about Quadraphonic sound but can't say I knew anyone that actually had it.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Quote Originally Posted by shilton dipper View Post
    I remember people talking about Quadraphonic sound but can't say I knew anyone that actually had it.
    I don't even know what stereophonic sound is. Is that just posh for stereo?
    1976 Vintage

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Some formats also became more popular in some places than others. For example, 8-track tape cartridges were far more common in the U.S. than in the U.K., and some American auto manufacturers offered 8-track players as standard factory options in cars right up until the early 1980's. But before the 8-track cartridge, there had been several other cartridge tape formats in the mid 1960's which had very limited use and then pretty much sank without trace.

    As for U-Matic video tape, while it might not have ever seen popular home use due to the cost and the fact that Betamax and VHS then came along, it was an extremely common cassette format in professional circles for many years, being used widely in broadcast environments as well as for things like CCTV recording of factory processes etc.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Quote Originally Posted by Trickyvee View Post
    I don't even know what stereophonic sound is. Is that just posh for stereo?
    Stereo - Short for stereophonic
    Mono - Short for monaural

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Quote Originally Posted by PC66 View Post
    Some formats also became more popular in some places than others. For example, 8-track tape cartridges were far more common in the U.S. than in the U.K., and some American auto manufacturers offered 8-track players as standard factory options in cars right up until the early 1980's. But before the 8-track cartridge, there had been several other cartridge tape formats in the mid 1960's which had very limited use and then pretty much sank without trace.

    As for U-Matic video tape, while it might not have ever seen popular home use due to the cost and the fact that Betamax and VHS then came along, it was an extremely common cassette format in professional circles for many years, being used widely in broadcast environments as well as for things like CCTV recording of factory processes etc.
    I remember reading in Record Collector there was a company in the USA that made licenced 8-tracks well until the 1980s, mostly for truckers who liked the fact they could a lot of music without needing to be turned over.

    My Dad can remember having training videos on U-matic in the 1970s.
    The Trickster On The Roof

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Niche Technology

    Most of the commercially produced 8-track cartridges tended to run for about 11 to 12 minutes for once around the loop, so about three-quarters of an hour total playing time - Roughly the same as one side of a C90 Compact Cassette.

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