The $580 million vinyl movie disaster that destroyed an empire

In 1954, RCA revolutionized home entertainment with the launch of the first consumer color television. While it took another decade for color TV to take hold widely, the release cemented RCA as a pioneer at the forefront of media technology.

By 1985, a damaged and devalued RCA was acquired by General Electric, and 66 years of dominance in consumer electronics and communications was effectively over. So what happened? A $580 million gamble called Selectavision. 

In the latest video from our YouTube channel, Popular Science host Kevin Lieber dissects the ill-fated launch of the Selectavision 400. But to understand why this ambitious technology tanked an entire electronics company empire, Kevin first had to get his hands on a Selectavision and see what it could do. That’s where the trouble started. 

Can Kevin silence the loud banging inside his eBay-acquired player? How did RCA botch a prediction about a $7.5 billion revenue driver? Why is Back to the Future’s Lea Thompson in an interactive murder mystery? And how did it all work? The questions were many, but this is Popular Science, so you know we found the answers. 

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