Virtual House

Videos (VCRs)


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Before video came along in the 1980s, you either watched your favourite programme when it was shown on the TV, or missed it – there was no taping progammes for later.

For the first time, recorded films (videos) could be bought at department stores or hired at video stores. Children could discover the films their parents or grandparents saw years ago at the cinema. That’s the reason why The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins or Dumbo are now as familiar to a six-year-old as a sixty-year-old.

Modern Video Recorder and Camcorder available at the John Lewis Store Modern VCR and Camcorder available at John Lewis

A videocassette recorder, or VCR for short, is a machine which records and plays back television programmes. The programmes are recorded on a wide magnetic tape called videotape. Like cassette players, video recorders use a tape head to read or record magnetic codes on a tape. These codes contain pictures as well as sounds.

Initially, there were two kinds of video, VHS and Betamax. Sony introduced its Betamax system in 1975, followed by JVC’s VHS (video Home System) in 1977. JVC’s longer playing time soon won the battle.

Video technology also made home cine cameras a thing of the past. Instead, we use camcorders (a combination of camera and video) to record important events in our lives like births, weddings and holidays.

The early camcorders were big and heavy, but modern ones fit in the palm of the hand and are very light.

You don’t need as much space at home, either. Old home movies shot on cine film were normally shown on a big screen on the living room wall, but camcorders record scenes on to video tape cassettes which can be played back on the TV.


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