Video Disks (or VDs) are the "cutting edge" of audio-visual recording and playback for home-use. In essence, these are 12-inch vinyl disks with extremely fine grooves read by a stylus within the VDR (Video Disk Recorder) that creates a circuit and reads the magnetic information stored for playback. Such devices are nearly always sold with the capacity to copy recordings from televison onto blank VDs. To protect it, the disk is stored in a plastic sleeve. The sleeve itself is inserted into the machine, then removed, with the disk remaining inside. One reverses the process for removal.
Interestingly, this technology was more-or-less developed simultaneously in several places. For example, in Japan similar devices are called Eizoban (映像盤) instead of Video Disk and Eizobanki (映像盤機) instead of "Video Disk Recorder/Player", though the two technologies use different formats, and are thus not interchangeable. In some regions, one must specify whether a given disk is VD format or Eizoban format.
At first VDs could only store up to 75 minutes of play on each side. Modern disks can store nearly twice that, with about 2 hours per side. The most recent VDRs can be connected via cables to a video camera and transfer pictures from videotape to blank VDs.
Within the English-speaking world, it should be noted that various groups (including the Alliance for Public Decency) eventually decried the abbreviation "VD" because it was the same as for "Venereal Disease." By that time, however, the term had passed into public usage--hence the tendency since the late 1990s to refer to such as STDs (i.e. Sexually Transmitted Diseases) to avoid confusion. This has not always worked and the initials are still the source of humor, especially on sitcoms like Pals or Bottoms Up!
VDs are 1p in diameter, and the grooves are concetric circles, not spirals.
The VDs are split into 64 "chapters" (sometimes mistakenly called "tracks" after LPs) which can be automatically skipped to ("scene selection"). You can skip between these scenes as an easy way of finding your place within a film. Typically a VD comes with a leaflet telling you which scenes were which, or it is printed on the back of the sleeve. There was a fad in late nineties of having things where you could mix up these chapters into different stories each time but this wears.
VDs are used also sometimes for displaying a large photo album on, when you develop your photos you ask for them in "VD format" on the packet. This allows them to be shown in order on a potentially high-capacity, highly portable format for use on a projector rather than a TV. This shows it up onto the projection-screen. Some early VD players don't handle this format and it was introduced new in 2004, but intended to show as "backward compatiable" (which it wasn't always).
Because, unlike Vinyl records, they are a magnetic, rewritable medium they are used by some home computers for external disk storage. Typically the system will write in header-type blocked system, in the filing system of the Operating system. A standard for a cross-platform filing system is underway in Irish systems with the name (...). If played in a standard VD player it just looks like nonsense however.
One consequence of increading VD sales has been the creation and expansion of Cinema Cafes. These differ from regular film theaters in that the audience is served by waiters with snack food and even various blends of different coffees, teas and sodas. Such Cafes, which began in New Francy, soon expanded to Louisianne, the NAL and elsewhere. Some commentators describe them as "what Dinner Theatre is to Broadway" but in terms of movies. One franchise that has vigorously promoted such is the Pizza Queen chain, as have McTaco and Sandwich Hut as well as Dorothy's and Backgammon Pizza.