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History of the DVD and Today’s Modern-Day Use
Moments Blog by iMemories
April 5th, 2022

History of the DVD and Today’s Modern-Day Use

Depending on your generation, DVDs incite different memories and uses. For some, they bring back the shock of entering Blockbuster to find movies in slimmer DVD cases as the movie rental giant migrated from VHS to DVD. For others, DVDs represent a regular Friday night trip to the Redbox kiosk for a quiet movie night at home with popcorn and a loved one. Kids associate DVDs with watching movies during a long car ride using the car’s built-in entertainment system—while their older sibling streams movies on their iPad.

DVDs have spanned generations and still exist in abundance today, making this medium one of the longest-lasting movie formats in history. Considering it’s staying power, let’s explore the history of DVDs and how we’re still using this technology today.


History of the DVD

For many years, VHS dominated the home movie and rental movie industry. They lined the walls and aisles of Blockbuster, Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video rental locations, with a friendly reminder to “be kind and rewind” prior to returning. They were inserted into large camcorders to capture memories in the form of home movies. Despite the success of VHS, entertainment industry executives wanted to work towards a format that was more versatile with better viewing quality and a longer run time—and one that didn’t require a type of film that needed to be rewound with every viewing. They were seeking a successor to the VHS format, with Matsushita Electric, Toshiba, Time Warner, Sony and Philips leading the charge.


Matsushita Electric, Toshiba and Time Warner collectively developed the Super Density Disc (SD) format, while Sony and Philips introduced their Multimedia (CD) technology. With the two formats entirely incompatible, entertainment and computer industry executives implored them to develop a single, standard solution. Feeling the pressure, the technology giants formed a DVD Consortium to come to a consensus, resulting in the DVD-ROM by the end of 1995—a compromise between the two technologies that relied far more heavily on the SD technology. Microsoft, Intel, Apple and IBM presented them with an ultimatum to keep working towards a solution that wholly leveraged both technologies for a better product. By September of 1996, the Digital Video Disc (DVD) was developed and DVD players quickly followed by November. Twister became the first blockbuster movie commercially released on DVD. 


What came before DVDs?

There were several movie formats that preceded the DVD, digging way back to the days of 8mm film and 16mm film reels. However, plenty of more modern versions existed in the decades between film reels and DVDs, including:


  • LaserDisc – Introduced in 1984, the Sony LaserDisk could store any form of digital file with a large storage capacity of more than 3GB.
  • CD-ROM – Short for Compact Disc Read-Only Memory, a CD-ROM was a disc with a read-only memory, meaning it could not be used to record and was used primarily to store audio and computer data.
  • VIDEO CD – Also known as VCD, this was a primitive digital movie format prior to the DVD. Somewhat like a CD, they stored movies instead of music or software.
  • MMCD and SD – MultiMedia Compact Disk (MMCD) and Super Density Disc (SD) were the two high-density storage discs being developed in the 1990s by competing companies, which led to the eventual DVD collaboration noted above.


Following the invention of the DVD and DVD player, the DVD camcorder was next to hit the market, allowing consumers to record home movies straight onto DVD. This boosted the creation of home movies to capture memories, as bulky VHS camcorders became obsolete.



Today’s Use of the DVD

DVDs are still widely used today, whether in the entertainment section of your local retailer with the latest movie releases, to backup computer data, or store old photos and videos. They’re also used in the memory digitization process by reputable companies like iMemories, which specializes in digitizing analog memories for lifelong preservation. They can take your old photo prints, negatives, slides, home movies and more, digitize them, and save them onto a DVD for viewing anytime.

Learn more about that process here.


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