Biographical / Historical
In 1982, faced with the twin challenges of providing rapid access to subject-oriented photography while still attempting to preserve the original prints, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) initiated the NASM Archival Videodisc Program. This optical disc storage technology (LaserDisc) was first marketed to the public in the late 1970s as a means for marketing and distributing motion pictures, but the 12-inch constant angular velocity (CAV) format analogue videodiscs (similar in construction to later digital video discs or DVDs) could also be used to hold still pictures (approximately 50,000 still picture frames per side, or 100,000 images for a double-sided disc). Each frame was numbered, making it easy to access a specific image and "freeze" it for display on a television or video monitor.
NASM Archival Videodisc 6 reproduced National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) photography of American lunar missions beginning with Ranger 7 in 1964 and ending with the flight of Apollo 17 in 1972, and including Ranger, Surveyor, Lunar Orbiter, and Apollo missions. Apollo imagery included 70 mm color and black-and-white photographs covering astronaut activity on the moon, lunar features, and Earth imagery, and metric mapping photographs. This videodisc was unusual in that it featured a large number of text images interspersed with the photography in historical sections presenting chronologies of American and Soviet lunar missions, Apollo missions, and biographies of the Apollo astronauts.
All photographic prints or color transparencies were sequentially numbered with printed title pages inserted into the sequence (black text on white paper) before the materials were photographed onto 35mm film for transfer to videodisc. Each videodisc was accompanied by a printed finding aid consisting of folder-level subject lists noting the image frame number or numbers associated with each subject.