The Birth of Home Recording

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Neil Brock, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    There's a great story in the book about a guy who was the first to offer movies on videotape. He went to all of the studios asking to license films and the only one that replied to him was Fox. They let him license 50 films from them for a couple hundred grand, all at least 5 years old, all had played on television numerous times. The Fox people (who even then were clueless about home video) were laughing their asses off about what a great deal they made and what a sucker the guy was. Ha ha ha. Those Fox people sure know their business. A little over a year later they bought his company for him for something like $7.7 million.
    But yes, I fell victim to that too and I used to tape movies from HBO all of the time myself.
     
  2. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    Magnetic Home Video, right? I remember them.
     
  3. ThatDonGuy

    ThatDonGuy Stunt Coordinator

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    That's sort of the opposite of my experience - the first VCR I owned (late 1985, I would guess) cost me $600; it was a four-head stereo model (there was an equivalent non-stereo version for $500). However, the tapes weren't more than $3 each.
    On the other hand, when I got my first DVD Recorder (standalone, not the internal PC type) in 2004, it cost about $450, but blank rewritable DVDs (single-side, single-layer) cost $6 each.
     
  4. Regulus

    Regulus Cinematographer

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    Back in the 1970s I thought I'd be in Heaven if I owned a VCR and had it hooked to a Large-Screen TV with access to HBO (This was when a VCR cost over $2,500.00 :eek: and a Big-Screen (Projection) TV cost more than your average New Car! :jawdrop: Today I have a Large-Screen HDTV and a VCR/DVD and Blu-Ray Player, but as for HBO (And the rest of Pay-TV), they can keep it! :laugh:
     
  5. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    I remember, 1985 I think, my father came home with a VCR from Montgomery Wards that he got "on sale" for $450. What a thrill it was to hook that up to the 25" console in the living room. He went and bought those cheap Goodtimes movies, recorded in glorious LP mode. :D I still have some of those today and it appears they were sourced from well worn 16mm prints they got on the cheap somewhere.
    By the late 80's, prices were down enough I had a VCR for my room. I never was big into movies but I loved classic TV and taped tons of The Beverly Hillbillies, all unedited, but pretty crappy quality as they were well worn 16mm prints that had been used for probably 20 years already. As others have talked about, I assumed they would just keep showing them and I wound up using the tapes to record another series I liked at the time, Are You Being Served. Now I wish I would've kept it all Uncle Jed!!!
     
  6. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

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    I figured why record old TV shows? I thought they would always be available to watch on channels like TBS, TNT, USA network, WGN, etc which in the 80's and early 90's showed NOTHING but old tv show reruns. I remember stuff like The Travels of Jamie McPheeters, Then Came Bronson, The Farmer's Daughter, Patty Duke Show, etc, etc, etc. Who knew that all those channels would eventually start producing their own content, and abandon classic TV. Not even TV Land, with the exception of a few really tired shows, will show the rare stuff they used to showcase, such as Honey West, The Loner, The Westerner, Route 66, etc.
     
  7. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    I guess two things drove my decision. Number one, I noticed that with each showing of the classic shows, the quality kept going down. Lines and speck spots kept getting worse with each showing, in particular the ones on one particular station. Number two, I had noticed that other stations were showing edited episodes were cropping up on other stations and I didn't know how long unedited shows would be available. I made the mistake of thinking WREG would do one more run through of The Beverly Hillbillies and instead of buying new tapes for Are You Being Served, I recorded over existing tape. Never mind that by this point the classic shows were relegated to the graveyard shift of after midnight, I assumed they'd get one more go through at least. Well, they did. However, the go through that The Hillbillies got was all brand new episodes but the ones edited down by about 3 minutes per show. I regret now taping over those tapes.
     
  8. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    Yes, that was it. The guy made a fortune off of Fox's stupidity. Always nice to hear. But also could have something to do with why they are always afraid to license things out. No one wants to be the person who licenses out a show that sells really well and makes them look bad again.
     
  9. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    Don't know where you were shopping but I was still paying around $10 a tape in the mid-80s. I don't remember the prices dropping that much until the 90s.
     
  10. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Like you, I don't think tapes were ever $3.00 in 1985, unless he was buying T-60s, or no-name junk like Universal-branded ones.
    However, we got our first VCR around 1985-86, and I did most of my early taping (circa 1986-87) on TDK, E-HG when I could find it, and if I recall, those were about $5.99 or so each (and the HS ones were a little less). Certainly not the $15.00 level they were in the '70s.
    Of course, I purchased all my tapes at discount stores (Heck's, Roses, Kmart, Wal-Mart, etc), so they might have been in the $10.00 range at other stores.
     
  11. Jeff Job

    Jeff Job Agent

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    We got our first VCR in the spring of 1984. Previously, I would audio record TV shows and movies with a small tape deck. Now, having the video opened up a whole new world of revisiting favorite shows and movies.
    Timeshifting wasn't good enough, so I would edit out commercials live. Twilight Zone would be on at 2:30 AM Sunday morning, but it was worth it to rewatch episodes with no commercials. Also - syndicated shows at that time were still unedited - I was very disappointed when classic shows started showing up missing 3-4 minutes to allow for more commercials.
    I still have some tapes from 1984 and looked at them recently - they still look pretty good (all things considered).
     
  12. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Whenever possible, I did the same thing, too (partially to avoid having to FF through them, but also to have room to squeeze an extra episode on, etc). Of course, enough time has passed that now I almost wish I'd left them in for the nostalgia factor to see those (now) 25-year-old-commercials.
     
  13. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Screenwriter

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    Back in 1969, my college (Lock Haven State College in Pa.) had "portable" recorders -- reel-to-reel Ampex machines that took 1" tape and had to be transported from place to place on heavy-duty carts. Some of videotape was made by 3M under the Scotch label, and it wore out heads like no one's business. The really good tape that made heads last a long time was made by Memorex.
    That means I'm old -- because I remember when Memorex was the good stuff!
     
  14. Ron1973

    Ron1973 Beverly Hillbilles nut extraordinaire

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    Is it live or is it Memorex? :cool:
     
  15. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I bought my first VCR when I was in college. I think it was 1978 (1979 at the latest). It was a Panasonic VHS, and cost about $1,000. This was in the very early days of home video. However, for a film buff like me, the ability to record movies and re-watch them was like a dream come true. People who were born after home video became commonplace don't really know what a huge breakthrough home video recording was. At the time, blank tapes were running around $24.99. I opted for VHS over Betamax because VHS with its LP speed could record up to 4 hours on a tape. Betamax at first was only around 2 hours per tape. Obviously, with blank tapes commanding such high prices, recording time was huge. I still remember the constant dilemma of deciding what to erase so I could record something new. I remember when blank tapes broke the $19.99 price barrier and thinking I'd better stock up.
     
  16. Guest

    I got my first VCR in 1983 (Quasar top loading) and I still keep it as a museum piece! Slightly off topic, but from 1966-69 I used to do a lot of reel-to-reel recording off of TV; not movies--shows, commercials, etc. I still have the tapes, and plan to revive/transfer them someday.
    :cool:
     
  17. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    Well considering the shelf life of those reel-to-reel tapes, someday may be too late, if it isn't too late already. Depending on the make of the tape (Sony is particularly bad), you may not be able to get them to play. I dealt with a lot of those tapes in the 80s that were only 10 years old at the time and they had already gunked up and couldn't be played.
     
  18. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Adding to the problem of putting it off is having access to a machine that will allow decent playback. If any of the stuff he recorded is considered "missing" television, perhaps a film/tv archive (or the rights-holders) would help get it transferred...
     
  19. Sky Captain

    Sky Captain Second Unit

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    Which, if you had (and were using) TIVO, you could have edited out.
     
  20. KPmusmag

    KPmusmag Supporting Actor
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    I just found a Magnetic Video Corporation newsletter and catalog from 1979 while searching through some old papers. I thought you guys might get a kick of seeing them again. Interestingly, in the newsletter they talk about laserdisc. The players then were $775 (adjusted for inflation that is $2500). They were selling blank VHS tapes for $18 (adjusted for inflation that is $60). It just shows the passion movie fans have for this material - at those prices I am amazed that home video ever got going! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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