Thorn 3D01 – VHD VideoDisc Player

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Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 1

Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 2

Those that know me will be aware  my collection leans heavily towards offerings from the Thorn stable, be it television VCR and audio. It was therefore always my hope to one day find one of these super rare for the UK, VHD players, namely the Thorn 3D01. The first time I became aware of one of these VHD players was when Lucien Nunes Vaz posted on VRAT about one in his collection back in 2012. As may of you will know, sadly Lucien was taken from this earth far too soon and his dream of having his museum passed with him. However, parts of his collection have ended up with other organisations where they can be seen on display, and other parts are being auction off.

Recently, the first such auction took place in April 2024 and low and behold the very player Lucian discussed on VRAT was one of the items. I vowed there and then come what may, it was coming to my Thorn collection, and it has, I do hope Lucien would approve.  This was not without drama, winning it was relatively simple the farce that unfolded thereafter, with regard to shipping, was another matter entirely. It will be no surprise when I tell you it was handled by non other than the not fit for purpose Parcel Farce!

These players are rare, as in the UK there were never available to the public. THORN were going to launch VHD into the consumer market in the United Kingdom and Europe, but following the disastrous Philips LaserVision launch in 1982 these plans were aborted. Equally, RCA’s closely related technology C.E.D.  took too long to release the CED videodisc system, developed in the 1960s it took a whole 17 years before they got to market, by which time they had completely failed to gain ground which sadly also pretty much sealed the fate of the RCA. Company.

Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 3

VHD was an extremely promising Videodisc format from the early 80s, it offered very high quality video and audio, far better than CED or SVHS and subjectively on a par with laser disc. Unfortunately, VHD was late to market and failed to compete with either laser disc or CED and was quickly resigned to history.

VHD had some very innovative for its time, offering many DVD like features such as multiple soundtracks, chapters and near perfect still images. It also offered excellent stereo sound with advanced noise reduction.

Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 4

Probably the greatest feature of VHD was that it was designed to be Multi-Region from the moment to go. All VHD players can play VHD disks from anywhere in the world, PAL or NTSC disks will work in any VHD player and video is outputted in the player’s native colour system.

I have a few C.E.D. players, and they are light as a feather, this Thorn 3D01 is a beast and weighs an absolute tonne! It reminds me of the Ferguson (Thorn) 3V23 another behemoth but that being a VHS player. There is a disc inside, and I believe this to be the Thorn demo disc, featuring all the latest delights of VHD. A few mins of this have been captured on Lucian’s YouTube channel. I plan to capture the entire disc.

It would be great to track down the 3D01R, the remote control for the device as without it, I cannot access any of the trick features of VHD as the player just has power, play and eject buttons. It would also be nice to locate the user manual and even more so the service data, all of which I suggest nigh impossible to source. For now, some pics and specs.

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Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 8 Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 9 Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 10 Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 11

Thorn 3D01 - VHD VideoDisc Player 12

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VHD was never commercially marketed in the UK or other European nations and as such PAL model players and disks are extremely rare. The Thorn EMI 3D01 was the only PAL VHD player constructed and was only available in extremely limited quantity’s to the industrial and educational markets.

The rear of the 3D01 features:

– Composite video out (BNC Terminal).
– Stereo audio out (RCA Terminals).
– Interface port for AHD (Digital audio upgrade), computer control, Karaoke system and 3D vision system.
– Wired remote control input.
– Automated start switch (on/off).
– GND connector (for extra safety in countries where an earth pin is not present on the plug).
– RF out and loop though.
– Rotary dial (for voltage selection).
– Hard-wired AC input fitted with a UK 3 pin plug.


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