In celebration of National VCR day… here’s a little bit of AV history for you.
The first commercially successful videotape recorder, the VRX-1000, was introduced in 1956 by American electronics company Ampex. The VRX-1000 and other early models were HUGE—and hugely expensive. Roughly the size a washing machine, the devices cost a whopping $50,000. Due to their size and shape, television networks and large TV stations were the only ones who got to enjoy the new technology in the early days.
The first home videotape recorder, the Telcan (short for television in a can), was made in the UK in 1963. It could only record about 20 minute’s worth of black and white footage and sold for a cool $1,600 US. Phillips gave us the first official “VCR” in 1972 when they released their N1500 model “videocassette recorder.”
In the years that followed, VCRs gained mass market appeal and a number of companies introduced their own video recording formats, the two most popular being JVC’s VHS (Video Home System) and Sony’s Betamax videotapes. Although Betamax had higher video quality, they lost the format war to JVC’s “quantity” (longer recording time).
It’s estimated that there are still over 10 billion videotapes around today. Celebrate VCR Day by pulling out your old VCR, dusting off those VHS (or Betamax) videotapes, and watching your favorite early 80s movie. Extra bonus points if you pop some Jiffy Pop and watch your video on a cathode ray tube TV.