In an alternate universe, movie buffs have Citizen Kane on vinyl. In that alternate universe, unlike in our own, Capacitance Electronic Discs, or CEDs, survived instead of being consigned to the same media-format graveyard as Betamax and HD DVD.

Eric Grundhauser, Slate/Atlas Obscura

Since the 1950s, American audiovisual production companies had dreamed of putting moving image, not just audio, on vinyl records. The theory went that if you could only get the vinyl grooves small enough, then moving image information could be read via the same mechanism as regular records—that is, via a stylus. Formal research on this concept began at RCA Labs in 1964, and by 1981, RCA predicted that they would sell 200,000 players that same year, and that “in 10 years the players would be in 30 to 50% of all American households with $7.5 billion in annual sales of players and disc.”

So, why didn’t video on vinyl have a moment? Why are many of our readers only finding out now that this was ever a remotely marketable concept?

The Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) was also known as a Videodisc.

Although CEDs had approximately the same image resolution as the VHS format and were also a more cost-effective alternative to Laserdiscs. However, by the time CEDs came out in 1981, VCR players were already well-established fixtures in American households, and many consumers did not see the point of investing in both a CED player and a VCR (especially since VCRs could record as well as play). Had the VCR never come out, the RCA estimates of how well the CED would have performed on the market might have been accurate or even conservative. Alas.

For more information about the CED and its demise, see the following resources: