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The History of DVDs

In 1986, Warner Home Video exec Warren Lieberfarb began urging Japanese consumer electronics makers to create an optical disc technology designed to store movies in the hopes that such a format would entice consumers to buy movies as opposed to renting them. During the early 1990s, many partnerships were made and broken as companies worked to create their own formats, such as Sony’s Multimedia Compact Disc and Toshiba’s Super Density (SD) digital videodisc. In 1995, a group of IT companies led by IBM exec Alan E. Bell created the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD). In 1997, Warner announced its first 30 DVD titles, which included movies like “Blade Runner,” “Casablanca,” and “Twister.” By 1998, approximately 1.4 million U.S. homes had DVD players and DVD revenue hit $350 million. That same year, Netflix was founded as an online DVD rental service. In 1999, Blockbuster rolled out the ability to rent DVDs. By 2006, however, revenue from DVD rentals and sales flattened out at around $24 billion while rival formats – HD DVDs and Blu-ray – debuted. Today, streaming services are the most popular way to watch movies, but DVDs are still bought and sold.

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