I believe that I first became aware of the existence of laserdisc in the late 70s or early 80's. I probably saw it on Tomorrows World. It was a lot tricker to see in person. Living in the North West of the UK in the 1980s you didn't get to see the latest tech easily. In London I would imagine I'd have been able to pop into Harrods where someone would be showing it off to passing customers, but I can't recall ever seeing a Laserdisc in person until 1992. I was working in HMV in Manchester (briefly) in the video & games department. They had a small rack of laserdiscs in a corner, I can't recall anyone buying one. The smart buyer at the time used the much cheaper mail order companies advertising in the back of film magazines.
I saw Laserdisc again in 1998 when I bought my DVD player from a shop that sprung up overnight in a small unit in the Manchester Arndale shopping centre. The store was importing DVD players and DVD/LD combos alongside films from Japan and the US before any DVD machines were available in the UK. I paid a deposit of £100 for my DVD player and promised to return and pay the remaining £300 over the next three months. The next time I returned a notice on the shutter explained that the trading standards office had shut the business down for selling films that hadn't gone through the BBFC certification process. It was a win for me though as I ended up paying just £100 for my £400 DVD player. I also recall that even in 1999 when I had a DVD delivered to the office some people were amazed - D....V.....D? they said, in the most surprised way you could pronounce three letters. How could you get a film on a silver disc someone else asked, as if it was a magic trick. A trick first performed by Laserdisc in the late 1970s.
Back the present. Over the last few years I've enjoyed learning about and experiencing tech I never had the chance to own when it was first available. Although I've deliberately concentrated on HiFi. Age is kind to audio, my 1976 Elcaset sounds as good as anything I've ever heard. Video is a very different story, old video basically just looks worse than new video. I find I now that I only watch the HD channels on TV and I've long since abandoned DVD as a format to purchase films on. When it comes to video, the past is the past and rose tinted glasses will just make it look worse.
However since I've coverered all the audio formats that I was interested in, it's time I dipped my toe into video and take a look at Laserdisc. Watch the video below to see if it's now totally unwatchable or a pleasant surprise.