Philips Involvement


Philips original, and preferred name for the format was always VLP for Video Long Play or Video Laser Player. (They referred to it both ways at various times). By the time the system was introduced, Magnavox had produced, manufactured and marketed the Magnavision player, with VLP as Philips' Official name. The early Magnavision players even bore a neat little VLP logo on the top of the unit.


The Magnavox Magnavision player was designed along the same lines as Bang & Olfusen's audio equipment in Denmark, with a sleek black and silver look and rounded, contoured edges. It was very high-tech looking. Originally, the lid of the player had a large plexiglas window in the shape of the disc so that viewers would see the disc spinning and the reflection of the red laserbeam. But, because of new Laser Radiation exposure laws being written in the US and Philips Lawyers fear of lawsuits, the turntable became completely enclosed. The first players sold in Atlanta were almost completely much hand built. The components were manufactured in the Netherlands, then shipped in kit form to Knoxville TN for final assembly. They were so expensive to make that the first year, Philips lost money on every player sold. It has been said that each player cost over a thousand dollar to manufacture. Later, assembly was automated and the costs came down somewhat, but by the time of the nationwide roll-out, Philips had raised the price of the player to $800.00 and the Laser Optical Assembly still had to be assembled and aligned by hand. Because of the newness of the format, the first players weren't very good. Philips had manufactured the players to a strict set of agreed upon standards. However, due to the high defect rate MCA DiscoVision was having, not every disc worked on every player. They would skip, stick, refuse to play, overheat and today are considered to be less than desirable. Philips made many modifications to the players and offered upgrades to existing players free of charge. These were only Band-Aids and it was the introduction of the Pioneer VP-1000 (and VP-1000a) that truly made the format reliable and to seem like a good value. The VH-8000 Magnavision players were so unreliable that many players spent up to 9 months out of their first year on the repair bench.

MCA DiscoVision blamed Philips for making bad players. Philips blamed MCA DiscoVision for making poor quality discs that didn't meet the standards. Word went around Philips that MCA representatives were on their way with a solution to the problem. Eager to hear that DiscoVision had corrected the software manufacturing issues, the Philips technicians were shocked to find that MCA's fix was not to make better discs, but to modify the Magnavision player to be more tolerant of the "less than perfect" discs. Philips was mad. It was also discovered that Pioneer and DiscoVision had been working together and had designed the Pioneer players with additional lens movement capabilities to handle the current line of discs being produced. MCA did not disclose this fact to Philips. A formal complaint was placed by Philips with the highest people at MCA charging collusion between Pioneer and DiscoVision to hide problems in the format, and basically placing the blame with Philips and their player. Philips was losing money by the fistfuls, and with this new issue, Philips was left disappointed and angry. To help compensate for their loses, they started a their own disc manufacturing plant for industrial use and that saved the disc at Philips.

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Updated: June 2, 1996
Copyright ©1996 Blam Entertainment Group