WEA Manufacturing Inc. was created in 1978–1979 when Warner Communications Inc. purchased two of its longtime suppliers: the record pressing plants Specialty Records Corporation (Olyphant, Pennsylvania) and Allied Record Company (Los Angeles). The company was headquartered in Olyphant, where the original plant was replaced in late 1981 by a new facility which retained the name Specialty Records Corporation. The Specialty Records Corporation name was dropped in 1996 in favor of WEA Manufacturing.
The company invested in CD manufacturing in 1986, matching a $247,000 contribution by economic development corporation Ben Franklin Technology Partners to develop & implement new processes of manufacturing audio CDs and CD-ROMs. BFTP assembled a team of experts in physics, electrical engineering, and thin film technology from the University of Scranton and Lehigh University to carry out the research & development. The Olyphant plant and another plant in Alsdorf, Germany, were expanded to support CD pressing that year, with the Olyphant facility's production commencing first in September 1986.
WEA Manufacturing grew to become the largest manufacturer of recorded media in the world.
The company's DVD division, Warner Advanced Media Operations, helped design the high-density format used in DVDs, and manufactured some of the first DVDs in the late 1990s.
The company was sold to Cinram International in October 2003 and no longer exists under the name WEA Manufacturing, but the Olyphant plant continues to operate under its new ownership. In 2005, the company was Lackawanna County's largest employer, with over 2,300 people working at the Olyphant plant.
WEA Manufacturing held U.S. patents related to compact disc manufacture:
- Method of manufacturing a composite disc structure and apparatus for performing the method
- Methods and apparatus for reducing the shrinkage of an optical disc's clamp area and the resulting optical disc
- Interference of converging spherical waves with application to the design of light-readable information-recording media and systems for reading such media
- Print scanner
In 1990, WEA Manufacturing was sued by a Canadian firm, Optical Recording Co. (ORC), for alleged infringement of two 1971 patents related to glass mastering equipment which was used by Time Warner and WEA Manufacturing in the manufacture of approximately 450 million CDs. ORC contended that unlike five other major CD manufacturers in the U.S., Time Warner had refused to license the technology from ORC. In 1992, a jury assessed damages of 6 cents per disc, plus $4–5 million in interest.
- Sony Digital Audio Disc Corporation, another early U.S. manufacturer of CDs
- "WCI Buys 2nd Of 3rd Plant Objective". Billboard: 4. May 1, 1979.
- "Construction of WEA's new pressing plant starts". Billboard: 4. Oct 27, 1979.
- Foti, Laura (Nov 21, 1981). "Specialty Plant Enlarges WEA's Pressing Capacity". Billboard: 9, 92.
- "Gary L. Rader vs. WEA Manufacturing and Specialty Records" (PDF). US Courts (PDF). 2003-10-27. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2010.
- Pennsylvania TechFormation 2005 Status Report (PDF) (PDF), p. 38, archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-07-24, retrieved 2009-10-28
- "WCI Building CD Plants in U.S. & Europe". Billboard: 1,80. Mar 29, 1986.
- "About WMG". Retrieved 2009-10-28.
1986 · WMG creates WEA Manufacturing, its first CD manufacturing plant.
- Horowitz, Is (Oct 4, 1986). "CD Avalanche". Billboard: C-3.
Warner Communications Inc. (WCI). CD production at the company's Olyphant, Pa., factory, also a traditional supplier of vinyl disks, was due to begin in September. Before the end of 1986, an annualized production rate of 14 million units should be realized, says Geoffry Holmes, WCI vice president. Two production modules will provide this output rate.
- Paige, Earl (Oct 4, 1986). "Confab: CD Fill to Remain Slow". Billboard: 4, 85.
'Our fill is the pits,' said WEA president Henry Droz, although he noted the start-up of production at WEA's Olyphant, Pa. plant. Modules, each with 7 million–10 million CD capacity, are coming on line. One is running, but he said he doesn't know the start-up date for the three others that are projected.
- "International Directory of Company Histories - Time Warner Inc.". Encyclopedia.com. 1993. Retrieved 2012-05-19.
- Niland, Bob (1994-01-02). "LD#09: Mint Marks". Retrieved 2012-05-19.
- US 6896829 (filed 2002, published 2005)
- US 6865745 (filed 2002, published 2005)
- US 6771585 (filed 2001, published 2004)
- US 5181081 (filed 1990, published 1993)
- Nunziata, Susan (July 4, 1992). "Court Rules Time Warner Infringed On Optical Recording Patents". Billboard: 85.