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Home Video Pioneer Andre Blay Dies at 81

Andre Blay, founder of Magnetic Video and the first CEO of 20th Century Fox Video, died August 24 in Bonita Springs, Fla. He was 81.

Known as the father of the home video industry, Blay founded the Magnetic Video Corporation in 1969, which went on to become the first company to release motion pictures on videocassette in 1977. Marking the beginning of an era in which people could bring movies from the theater into their own homes, he also started the Video Club of America, which advertised video cassettes in TV Guide and was the forerunner of video rental stores.

The video cassette business got off the ground when he began paying a yearly fee to 20th Century Fox to license movies from their catalog. They were the first films available on video from a major studio, and the venture was so successful that Fox bought Magnetic Video in 1979 to form 20th Century Fox Video, naming Blay as CEO.

After leaving Fox in 1981, he formed video software firm Andre Blay Corporation, which he sold to Embassy Pictures. As CEO of Embassy Home Entertainment, he helped shepherd productions movies including “Hope and Glory” and “Sid and Nancy.”

After Embassy was sold, he served as executive producer on movies including 1980s versions of “Village of the Damned,” “They Live,” “The Blob,” and “Prince of Darkness.”

He later served as CEO of Enterprise Software, which developed broadcast management software for televison stations.

Blay was born in Mount Clemens, Mich. and graduated Michigan State with a B.A. and MBA. Before Magnetic Video, he co-founded Stereodyne, the first eight track and cassette duplication company.

Blay was inducted into both the Video Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame in 1982. In retirement, Blay continued to share his passion for business by speaking to business students from MSU, UCLA, Central Michigan University, High Point University, and Florida Gulf Coast University.

Blay is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy, and their children Robert, Cynthia, and five grandchildren.

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