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|RCA Press Release for September 18, 1984|
RCA today introduced the first home entertainment system in the world that links together seven video and audio components for interactive operation using only a single remote control device.
The "Dimensia" system also marks the first use in a consumer product of extensive computer technology to provide visual commands on the TV screen while allowing multiple product functions to take place simultaneously. By using the systems' remote control, it is possible to audio tape a radio program or record album and simultaneously video tape a TV program -- all while watching another TV show on the system's color receiver.
As a complete system of electrical components, "Dimensia" will carry an optional retail price of $5,000. Consumers will also have an opportunity to buy individual components, building a compatible audio and video system over a period of time.
The "Dimensia" monitor-receiver represents a new screen size for the industry, a 26-inch (diagonal) "square-screen" model. The color receiver also includes the capability to receive broadcast stereo sound.
D. Joseph Donahue, Vice President and General Manager, RCA Consumer Electronics Division, said RCA has filed more than 60 United States Patent applications covering the system and its monitor-receiver technology. RCA began advanced development work on the system in 1981 at the Division's New Products Laboratory in Indianapolis.
A unique feature of the system is the monitor-receiver's ability to accept commands and then communicate them to other computers in each of "Dimensia's" audio and video components. The system's intelligence is such that when you push "VCR" and "Play," it will automatically turn on the VCR, the stereo amplifier, put the VCR in "Play" mode, turn on the monitor, and switch the monitor to the proper VCR viewing channel -- all simultaneously. The TV monitor will then confirm that the command has been carried out by displaying "VCR-Play" on the screen using color-coded alphanumeric graphics.
"The 'Dimensia' system uniquely points the way to a direction that will enable the public to enjoy simplified use of a maximum number of video and audio components," Dr. Donahue said. The single "Dimensia" control center replaces the need for individual remote units that are typically used with VCR, TV and the audio components of the system.
The RCA video and audio components in the system are easily linked together by a unique "SystemLink" of cables that "daisy chain" to each other, permitting interactive communication between components. The usual clutter of wiring or cumbersome switching boxes is eliminated in the "Dimensia" system.
RCA plans to introduce the new system, "The Next Dimension in Sight and Sound," nationally late next month though retail exposure will necessarily be limited to "Dimensia" dealers in all major markets due to the higher cost of the system.
"The 'Dimensia' approach will be one of gradual growth as both RCA and participating retailers refine a marketing approach for a deluxe innovative product that will require extensive awareness of the system's capabilities," Dr. Donahue said.
As many as 16 components can be connected to the system simultaneously for interactive operation, providing room for future growth of the "Dimensia" concept, he noted. The initial grouping of RCA "Dimensia" components include a color TV monitor-receiver; VHS Hi-Fi VCR; AM/FM tuner; linear tracking turntable; compact digital audio disc player; auto reverse cassette deck; integrated amplifier; and a 3-way speaker system.
Also available to house the system is a modular furniture grouping that is designed to accommodate any combination of components. The optional cabinets will be available in a choice of Ebony or Oak finish, as is the TV monitor and speakers. A 2-way speaker system is also being offered as part of the "Dimensia" system.
Stephen S. Stepnes, Vice President, Marketing, said RCA believes that the consumer electronic industry's future "will be fueled by continued innovation in individual products and the combining of these products into systems which in themselves will become new product categories."
In developing a single audio/video system, RCA bypassed the current conventional approach of adding audio components to video components and created an integrated styling approach. Mr. Stepnes said the RCA goal of four years ago was to produce a system "that performed and interacted together, but with simplified remote control using only one control device."
RCA will introduce a number of innovative merchandising concepts in support of the "Dimensia" system, Mr. Stepnes said. A special six minute cassette will be made available to dealers for retail use, providing a brief overview of the system's components and operations.
A separate retail demonstration package will be available to highlight "Dimensia's" audio components. Included in the package are an audio cassette tape, digital audio compact disc and an LP record.
In addition, Mr. Stepnes said RCA developed a more advanced retail demonstration package that is based on a specially designed computer program. As a video narrator explains "Dimensia," individual components automatically turn on providing "a remote control multi-media show on the dealer's floor."
"We fully realize that as a new business the 'Dimensia' concept will have to be nurtured and carefully brought along in the marketplace," Mr. Stepnes said.
While RCA expects many customers will not buy the entire system immediately, "we believe that 'Dimensia' offers them a system plan that provides maximum compatibility, flexibility and reliability," he added. "It truly is the wave of the future, based on new technology but with provision for tomorrow's inventions."