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Japanese company Pioneer has been through tough times and now limited its involvement in home electronics. So it's easy to forget its pioneering work - and not just on Kuro plasma TV screens.
In the 1980s the 1450 Laser Disc player caused shockwaves in Hollywod by letting European viewers play American NTSC discs through ordinary European PAL tv sets, and so get round the studios' policy of stagggered releasing of feature films (to save the cost of 35mm prints) with the USA getting first bite of the cherry.
Hollywood complained so Pioneer had to try and sell the 1450 without any word of its most desirable feature.
Then Pioneer launched two DVD players, the 505 and 909, which were dutifully equipped with Hollywood's Regional Coding system which curbs sales by preventing Europeans from playing DVDs from America. But dealers soon found that one blob of solder, between two test points, defeated all Coding. The trade has been happily blobbing and selling as many players as Pioneer can supply.
The studios complained again and the next Pioneer DVD player [the 717] had no contacts to blob.
In 1991 Pioneer's inventive engineers wanted to let people listen to CDs in a car without installing an expensive player for thieves to steal. A £300 holdall contained a CD player, with six-pack disc cartridge, and FM stereo transmitter. Both took 12v from the car's cigar lighter and the transmitter was tuned to any spare VHF frequency. The car radio was then tuned to the same frequency.
When drivers left the car they took the holdall with them. But an unlicensed radio transmitter contravenes the Wireless Telegraphy Acts, with the risk of heavy fines, jail and confiscation.
The UK government's Radiocommunications Agency could issue an exemption or "type approval" licence, but declared: "We regard the device as a No No. For us to approve it we would have to test it and Pioneer have not approached us. There is no technical standard, so there can't be type approval and exemption, even if they had applied, which they haven't".