This picture of a Star Wars laserdisc shows the massive size of the now-defunct optical video format, compared to a traditional DVD or CD.
Before the widespread success of the DVD format, a much larger optical medium was developed in the late 1970s before fading in the 1990s, in North America at least.
Just a couple of years after the VHS video cassette became available to consumers, the LaserDisc format was first released in the US in 1978. Appropriately for the 1970s, the format was first sold as DiscoVision. Jaws was the first film available in the format.
The discs were massive, nearly a foot in diameter, more comparable to a vinyl record than the future compact disc or DVD.
However, the format did offer a higher-resolution picture than available on the much-more-common VHS tape format. Selecting scenes were much easier than the rewinding and fast-forwarding on tapes, and extra features like commentaries—common these days on DVD—were able to be put on laserdiscs. It was also much less prone to wear.
However, Laserdiscs were large and bulky. After a certain amount of time, the disc had to be manually flipped to continue playback.
Despite support from video collectors, the format was not widely supported by consumers in North America, partly due to costs and partly due to the other issues noted above.
The final film in the format was released in the US in 2000. However, the format was much more successful overseas, in countries such as Japan.
Despite the limited success of the format, some releases in the format are still eagerly sought by collectors, such as the unedited, original Star Wars and the Japanese release of the hard-to-find Disney film, Song of the South.