Pioneer Drops Laserdiscs

For 20 years, Pioneer has been laserdisc's biggest booster. But that era of home entertainment ended July 6, when Pioneer Entertainment announced that it would no longer produce or supply laserdiscs. The software division of Pioneer Electronics made the decision in view of the growing popularity of DVD, which, along with VHS tape, accounts for more than 90% of their business. The announcement is most certainly the kiss of death for the beleaguered format.

Criterion, Image Entertainment, and a few other small companies also supported the market for laserdisc, which was the highest-quality video source available to the consumer until the advent of the DVD. But despite LD's obvious superiority to consumer-grade video tape, the bulky, unwieldy discs and big machines needed to play them never gained mass appeal.

Image Entertainment is now the only remaining source for new laserdiscs. For the foreseeable future, Pioneer Electronics will continue to make and market combination LD/CD players, according to a company press release.