Mystery object

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TNMOC has just been donated an unusual artifact that has got a lot of people thinking on our Facebook and Google+ pages. It dates from around 1980, only 100 were ever made, but what is it ...?

Our donor explains:

I was working for Sony in Australia and then in the UK on advanced products at a time when the laser disc was expected to be the interactive revolution. We spent a lot of time developing interactive concepts linking the videodisc to a headset with a very small monitor by the eye.

We then worked with an American airline developing a complete mobile interactive workshop manual for aircraft maintenance and put it on a videodisc with video footage. The operartor wore the headset to see what was expected.

To keep it up to date, the system housed a small computer that looked for updates from the main service computer.

In the end technology raced ahead and the project moved to airborne video projectors.

The laser disc (pictured) was part of a prototype series by Sony/Philips in 1980. While most laser discs at the time were 10 inches across, this one by Thompson CSF is 12 inches and transparent, made of celluloid with data etched by laser.

Only 100 were ever produced and we trashed a lot of those trying to get the laser power correct to read the information and not melt the disc. I kept it as a memento of all the frustrating hours we spent getting the technology to work.

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