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|Featured CED VideoDisc No. 36 - Spring 2005|
This featured CED is about the three discs pressed in conjunction with the RCA VideoDisc Aloha Conference, an event (in two sessions) that took place in February-March, 1984 at the Kona Surf Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii. This hotel recently underwent a major renovation and is now called the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa. Despite the "conference" name assigned to the Aloha Conference, it was really a fun-filled vacation RCA gave to distributors, store owners, and salespersons who significantly increased their sales of RCA VideoDisc players for calendar year 1983.
The "Double Your VideoDisc Player Sales" goal was laid out on the first disc (at left above) sent out to dealers in late 1982 and stipulating they had to enroll in the program by January 1983. A seller who then achieved the required sales for the month of January and for the entire year of 1983 would be eligible to attend the Aloha Conference in Spring 1984. Side 1 of Catch the Wave to the Kona Coast is only 06:48 long, making it one of the shortest sides ever pressed. Side 2 of the first Aloha disc is the Stereo Demo Disc which had originally been released earlier in 1982 to correspond with RCA's introduction of the first stereo CED players. Although the Stereo Demo Disc had the same program repeated on both sides, someone must have figured that the initial discs were by now getting worn out, and making use of this unused side provided dealers with a fresh copy.
The remaining two Aloha Conference VideoDiscs cover the two sessions of the conference itself and were mailed out to attendees shortly after the event. The Aloha Conference was set up so the seller and his or her spouse could attend, with each couple receiving a disc applicable to their session. Of course, not every winner was married, so there were a few singles who went to the conference, or more commonly a single winner would have another family member come along. A new section has been added to Memories of VideoDisc which lists everyone who attended the Aloha Conference. These two conference event discs have identical labels, although the first session (February 22 - 27) is in a white caddy, while the second session (February 27 - March 3) is in a blue caddy. The wrap-around label on these discs is unusual in having a completely blank spine and backside. Besides the caddy color, the only other way to distinguish the discs without playing them is by the 5-digit product number (07027 or 07028) printed on the raised center section of the disc.
The two conference discs contain professionally-prepared videos of footage shot at the respective Aloha Conference sessions. Except for the people involved, both discs are nearly identical in terms of storyboarding. The videos were prepared by Executive Sports Productions, Inc. of Dallas, Texas with founder/owner Gary Sleeper serving as emcee on both discs. An ESPI-labeled microphone is seen during many of the interviews, and interesting enough this video production company exists to the present day as Executive Specialty Productions, Inc. with Mr. Sleeper still in charge. The video on each disc is titled "The 1984 RCA VideoDisc Aloha Sports Spectacular" and is patterned after the celebrity sport TV specials that were popular back in the 1980's. The Sports Spectacular is split into two main events, the RCA Hawaiian Golf Tournament and the Thing-A-Thon Competition. This later event was somewhat physical, so I'm guessing conference attendees who weren't up for it opted to do the golf tournament only. The Thing-a-Thon itself was comprised of a number of individual events as follows:
Not all these events are covered on the disc, as I got the list off the color-coded team T-shirts worn by competitors during the events. In one of the pictures on the caddy above you can see the yellow and green teams participating in the Tug-A-War, the event that concludes each video. These Thing-A-Thon T-shirts occasionally turn up in eBay auctions.
Besides the Sports Spectacular video, the Aloha Conference session discs contain a couple of other interesting items. One of these is RCA's CED flashdance-style "See the Music" television commercial from 1983. On the disc, the commercial has been modified to include Aloha Conference participants. The other item, identical on both discs, is a 10-minute slide show of tropical flowers set to soothing instrumental music.
One final thing to note about the Aloha Conference is that the second session concluded on March 3, 1984. Those familiar with CED know that RCA made the stunning announcement on April 4, 1984 that the company would cease manufacture of CED players, effectively putting an end to the CED system. Given the time needed to produce the video, press the discs, and mail them out, Aloha Conference attendees were getting these discs at about the same time the announcement was made. It must have been a bittersweet experience watching the disc and knowing there never again would be an RCA VideoDisc conference.