The first industrial LaserDisc player to be mass-produced and available for outside use was the MCA DiscoVision PR-7820, which later was rebranded and became marketed as the Pioneer PR7820. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, this laserdisc player was used quite extensively by many GM dealerships across Canada and the US as a means of showing training videos to new employees, as well as presenting new car and truck lines.
Pioneer was the first company to produce and sell a consumer player in March of 1984. The solid-state laser player, named the LD-700, was the first of its kind to be able to have discs loaded from the front, rather than the top. Just one year prior, Hitachi had come out with their own industrial version using a laser diode, but it was very expensive and produced poor quality pictures because the drop-out compensator it used was highly inadequate. This laserdisc player was only developed in limited quantities.
Once Pioneer started marketing the LD-700, manufacturers no longer used gas lasers in their consumer players; however, Philips continued to use such lasers in their industrial player until the mid-80’s.
Pioneer developed a number of players that were able to hold over 50 laserdiscs. For a short while in 1984, a “LaserStack” player was developed that required the lid to be physically removed and attached to the top of models like the LD-600 and LD-1100, as well as other Pioneer clones like those manufactured by Sylvania/Magnavox. Such LaserStack units could hold up to 10 laserdiscs, and were also capable of loading and removing the discs, and even changing sides.
Most other players required users to physically flip the disc over once the side reached its time limit. Certain models were capable of automatically playing both sides of the laserdisc.
After the mid-80’s most laserdisc players were able to play CDs in addition to laserdiscs. Such models were made to feature a 4.7 inch indentation in the loading tray where users would place the CD, and where the disc would be played. Two Pioneer players also featured a CD changer, offering users the ability to load a number of CDs that would automatically be reverted to in sequence once each CD came to completion.
The first consumer combination LD/DVD player, the DVL-9, was introduced by Pioneer in 1996. Pioneer was also the first to introduce a high-definition video player.