My family got a VHS VCR in December 1984, when I was 20 months old, so I have no memory of a time when we didn't have the ability to record things off TV. The earliest home recording we still have was from The Disney Channel a year later, and most of the stuff that were movies and cartoons from about a year later. Unfortunately, most of it was recorded in SLP speed. We taped movies and shows occasionally, and we did buy some movies from the stores. Whenever they taped stuff off network TV, they almost never left commercials in, so we ended up with a bunch of CBS broadcasts of Charlie Brown and Garfield specials with small snippets of the beginnings of scenes missing and the end credits cut off at the very end (as well as network broadcasts of movies like The Sound of Music, Annie, and The Wizard of Oz that were also sans commercials, and the broadcasts of the latter two films are long since taped over after we purchased the uncut versions and had no more use for the "edited for television" cuts), but occasionally they forgot to press pause during the breaks. By the time I started recording stuff myself, I left the commercials in.
I never recorded TV shows regularly, just individual episodes, like the last episode of Family Ties. By the end of the decade, we did buy some TV on VHS during that era, mostly the Disney Afternoon shows, but Mom bought some of her favorite Star Trek: TOS episodes on tape. The Simpsons was the first show I taped faithfully, and I have every episode up until about 2005 when I decided "that's all I can stands, I can't stands no more." By that time, I was recording it on DVD-R. I did manage to get most of Bob Barker's final season on The Price is Right in that format. During the 1990s, I accumulated large chunks of 1970s and 1980s sitcoms in their syndicated versions. My Mom actually asked me to stop taping so many shows. By 1993, we upgraded to a Hi-Fi stereo VCR.
In my search for uncut TV episodes, I actually bought a Betamax player in the late 1990s and stacks of tapes. I managed to find huge chunks of Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere, several movies of the week, small handfuls of soaps and network broadcasts of 1980s sitcoms and dramas. The VHS tapes held up, but the Betas looked better and held up better. The only thing I hated about Betamax was the fact that the players would often change speeds, and it, too, had tracking to deal with. With a minority of tapes, you had to turn a button to hit the "sweet spot," where tracking-related issues were at a minimum.