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David Gregg and the Optical Disk

From Mary Bellis,
Your Guide to Inventors.
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History of the Optical Disk

An optical disk is a plastic-coated disk that stores digital data. Tiny pits are etched into the disk surface that are read with a laser scanning the surface. The technology behind the optical disk is the foundation for similiar formats including CDs and DVDs.

David Gregg

David Paul Gregg first envisioned the optical disk (or VIDEODISK as he named it) in 1958 and patented the technology in 1961 and 1969. Gregg's company Gauss Electrophysics was acquired by MCA in the early 1960s. MCA also bought the patent rights for the optical disk which included a the process for making a video record disc and other optical disk technology. In 1978, MCA Discovision released the first consumer Optical disk player in Atlanta, Georgia.

The optical disk is an analog video optical disk format. The original format provided full bandwidth composite video and two analog audio tracks (digital audio tracks were added later). The optical disk (commonly known as the laser disc as trademarked by Pioneer) was replaced in popularity by the introduction of DVD in 1997.

David Gregg Speaks on the Invention of the Optical Disk

"The Inspiration" for the optical disk was an illustration in a technical news magazine which passed across my desk at Westrex Corp., Hollywood, in the late 1950s...

...By "dumbing down" an electron beam to visible wavelengths, modulating it to the standard PWM video frequency, and reducing the power to photoresistive requirements, an e-beam optical videodisk mastering system was practical and commercially available in the late 50s. However, this simple and practical means of mastering was abandoned by others in favor of more costly and time delaying technology: the laser, the supreme toy of the moment for techies."

Impact of David Gregg's Patents

  • Digital Versatile Disc or DVD and LaserDisc from Pioneer
  • MiniDisc from Sony
  • Compact Disc or CD from Philips the 3M Company
The above are among the several companies who have licensed Gregg patents and used the technology to make new formats.

List of Patents for Optical Disk Technology

David Gregg's U.S. patents include: #4,500,484, #4,615,753, #4,819,223, and #4,893,297 all updates from the 1969 patent # 3,430,966.

Continue > Extract from Optical Disk Patent

Special thanks goes to Tom Peterson for providing information for this page including the words of David Gregg. David Gregg was Tom's father by adoption.

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