Ever since Thomas Edison’s introduction of the first commercially viable film projection device in the late 19th century, society has been enamored with the idea of recording and playing back events in the form of “motion pictures,” and the 20th century has marked a rapid progression of said technology. Initially, video playback was expensive and cumbersome, meaning that consumers had to attend movie theaters to enjoy their favorite flicks. The next advance came in the 1970’s with the development of the Video Home System (better known as VHS), which brought about the advent of VCR’s and the ability to view “video tapes” in the comfort of your own home. Subsequently, the explosion of microelectronic and digital technology enabled a new video playback device, first available commercially in 1996. This new technology harnessed the power of digital data storage and cutting edge optical and electronic semiconductor technology to bring users the ultimate home theater experience. What exactly am I referring to? You guessed it, the now ubiquitous DVD.
The acronym “DVD” originally stood for Digital Video Disc, but as this versatile technology found more and more uses in non-video applications, it has come to be known by many as the Digital Versatile Disc. Officially, the members of the DVD Forum (maintained by Toshiba) never came to a decision on the matter, so the name of the format remains “DVD,” and the meaning of the “V” remains ambiguous. But despite the confusion over the acronym, the DVD has taken the world by storm.
As DVD technology has evolved, two factors have made DVD players incredibly appealing and successful: a combination of its simple interface and its incredible power and capability. Digital microprocessor/microcontroller technology has enabled sophisticated device operation to be simply controlled by the push of a few buttons (whether on the actual device or via remote control). That same digital technology, combined with various data storage and compression capabilities, also allows a small, light, deceptively simple looking piece of plastic to hold incredible amounts of data and provide exceptional quality images.
The ease of operating a DVD player has made it an extremely viable consumer device. Unlike the sophisticated, manually controlled projection schemes seen in the early days of motion pictures, the DVD player’s simple interface glosses over the incredible complexities of operating the device, allowing even the most technologically challenged novice to easily control this powerful and versatile machine. Additionally, the ability to play, pause, stop, and quickly shift from any section of the disc to another makes the DVD player far more versatile than any of its predecessors. The simple push-button interface and infrared sensors (to detect remote control inputs) allow almost anyone to use a DVD player simply and effectively.
The second reason for the pervasive appeal of the DVD player is the vast...