1993 - The first versions of the Digital Video Disc (DVD) were developed by two competing consortiums. Toshiba/Warner developed the Super Density Disc and Sony/Philips developed the Multimedia Compact Disc. "In the early 1990s, different companies began working on a further development of CD technology a disc of similar size but much greater capacity.The two forefathers to DVD were SD (Super density) disc from a consortium lead by Toshiba and Time Warner and MMCD (Multimedia CD) from a consortium lead by Sony and Philips. In developing a new standard, it was extremely important to satisfy the needs of both the computer and the movie industries. Both industries wanted a small disc solution that guaranteed CD compatibility. In September 1995, all companies involved agreed to the common set of standards.The DVD consortium could thus avoid a replay of the VHS and Betamax battle that split the analogue video world in the early 1980s. The results: DVD is one standard for all fields of application." (Toshiba)

1994 - Nimbus Technology & Engineering (NTE) with Time Warner and Toshiba began development of the DVD disc format. "In 1994 the Company's high industry profile and reputation for technological innovation helped to attract two significant commissions. The first, from Eastman Kodak Company, required a specialist mastering system both for their research into CD-R (recordable CDs) and to support their production requirements for an explosive growth in demand. The second commission was from Time Warner, who, together with Toshiba Corporation, were developing a new high density format able to contain full length movies. This format is now known as DVD. NTE installed the very first production proven DVD mastering system in Time Warner's US manufacturing plant in January 1995. We are now the leading supplier of DVD mastering equipment, with over 3 years more experience in this field than any of our competitors. The vast majority of discs now available were mastered using Nimbus equipment." (Nimbus)

1995 - By September, all companies in the DVD consortium agreed to DVD standards. Warner Advanced Media Operations (WAMO) and WEA Manufacturing, Warner 's replicating division in Olyphant, Pennsylvania produced 650,000 commercial DVD discs. "The development of the DVD manufacturing system spanned three years and three continents. Gregg Johnson, Plant Manager for Preproduction said, 'We found ourselves in a very challenging position, we were assigned the task of launching DVD and virtually every aspect of the DVD manufacturing process needed
to be designed. . . there was no off-the-shelf DVD equipment available in 1996'. Johnson rattled off an impressive list of projects which lead to 1996 DVD launch. These projects included development of the first commercial UV LBR with their technology partner, Nimbus Technology and Engineering, design and construction of the DVD tester, co-development of the DVD Bit-to-Bit tester, 0.6mm molding technology, UV bonding technology and, Enhanced Pit Art technology." (WAMO)

1996 - In November, the first DVD players went on sale in Japan.

1997 - In March, the first DVD players went on sale in the U.S., with 349,482 players and 2 million discs sold by the end of the year. In April, Sony released its first commercial DVD player in the U.S., the model DVP-S7000. Sony's DVD plant in Terre Haute, Indiana, opened in the summer of 1997. The Digital Audio Disc Corporation (DADC) "was the first manufacturer of compact discs in the United States, recently celebrated the manufacture of its billionth compact disc and remains the largest CD manufacturing facility in the country today." (Sony press release 1/8/97)

1998 - 1,089,000 DVD players and 7,200,000 discs sold in the U.S.

1999 - Panasonic advertised the first DVD-audio player, the DVD-A10 for $1199, with 2-channel sound sampled at 192 kHz or 6-channel sound sampled at 96 kHz.

2000 - 8,500,000 DVD players sold in the U.S., raising the total sold since 1997 to 13,922,000.


  • Pictures from Toshiba
  • DVD FAQ from Jim Taylor
  • Brinkley, Joel. "On New DVD Formats, the Sound of Good Things to Come," New York Times, December 9, 1999
    Digital Revolution | Digital Television

    1999-2001 by Steven E. Schoenherr. All rights reserved.

    Return to Recording Technology History Notes | this page revised Aug. 24, 2001