The history of the DVD player and format is complex. But in simple terms, it emerged because the companies realized that a repeat of the Betamax / VHS rivalry would affect them financially. The first DVD players came out in November 1996 in Japan, developed by Philips. This invention can’t be attributed to one man. There is no clear data that say who exactly invented this device. Therefore, we can only say that Philips created the first DVD player. Other big companies started making their own players shortly after the Philips’ DVD player showed up. The first DVD player in the US was the Sony DVP S7000. It came out in March 1997.
How the DVD Format Emerged
In 1993, two formats were being touted to replace the CD. One was called the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD). It was supported by Philips and Sony. The other format was the Super Density or SD. This format was backed by Toshiba, Pioneer, JVC and Time Warner.
The SD group approached IBM and asked them to use the format for computer data storage. The MMCD group did the same thing. IBM decided to form the Technical Working Group (TWG) to resolve the situation. The group was composed of people from Microsoft, Apple and other major computer companies.
In what would prove pivotal in the history of the DVD player, the working group managed to persuade the companies to use a single format. The MMCD and the SD were dropped; the DVD was adopted instead.
As work on the DVD began, the companies decided to use technologies from both SD and MMCD formats. One of the technologies applied was EFMPlus, which made the disc more resistant to scratches and smearing. It also allowed for greater storage capacity, up to 4.7 GB.
By the end of 1995, the standards for the DVD movie player and computer disk drive were set. The history of the DVD player shows that after it came out in Japan and the US, it arrived in Europe in November 1998. By the following year, it was available in Australia and other countries around the world.
DVD Players Become Widespread
DVD titles started appearing in the US in early 1997. By 2003, DVD
rentals had surpassed VHS. By 2004, virtually all major movie releases were issued in DVD formats. This would lead to the demise of the VHS.
The first DVD player in the US cost $970. Today, they can be purchased for under $35. Aside from movies, DVDs have been used to store TV episodes and computer data.
Capabilities of DVD Players
Throughout the history of the DVD player, numerous features have been added and made each product unique. But all players can do the following: it can read a DVD disc in ISO –UDF format. It can also decode MPEG 2 to PCM and MP2 format. Almost all DVD players can play audio CDs, mp3s, WMA and other common digital audio formats.
Some DVD players can play back VCDs, and are equipped with Dolby Digital Theater Systems. The latest releases are compatible with MPEG 4 ASP video. While they need to be linked with TV sets, other models are LCD compatible.
The history of the DVD player indicates that more technological improvements are forthcoming. Already the standard player is being superceded by the HD DVD and the Blu Ray, which have superior video and audio quality.