My First VCR

RCA 650I started working at Movies Unlimited in the summer of 1980.  In those days there were only a handful of video stores in the country, and there were few outlets that actually sold VCR’s.  Even the local electronics retailer, Silo, didn’t have them yet.  But MU did.  And we sold hundreds of them.

At that time there was a format war, with the Sony Betamax vs. JVC’s VHS.  We sold Sony Betas and RCA brand VHS recorders.  Sony was actually the better machine, both mechanically and picture wise.  But they were very proprietary and wanted a lock on the market, so they only licensed the Beta technology to one other brand, Toshiba.  JVC had more foresight and licensed their technology to many of the major American brands as well as some Japanese competitors.

As a result, by the time I saved enough money to buy my first VCR a few months later it was clear that VHS was going to become the dominant format, even in 1980.   So, I decided to get a VHS recorder.  But not just any recorder.  I had to get the top of the line RCA recorder, the RCA 650.  It had all the bells and whistles all of the other machines didn’t have:  4 heads for a better picture, slow motion, 3 recording speeds AND a corded, fancy dancy remote that was one-of-a kind at the time.  I paid $1000 wholesale for it, an amazing expense in those days.  Looking back, it was insanity to spend that kind of money (although even the basic recorders at that time were hundreds of dollars).  But it was worth it to me at the time and I got a lot of enjoyment from that recorder.  And since I was one of the first of my friends to get one I was pretty popular, too.

 Do you remember your first VCR?  Tell us about it in the comments.

Ed Weiss is the General Manager of Movies Unlimited.  He is writing recollections in honor of our 35th Anniversary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    I don’t remember a lot about m,y first VCR, but I do remember being in seventh heaven because I suddenly had access to movies I loved but hadn’t seen uncut in years. Today of course I’m well into the DVD revolution altho I have resisted getting a BLUE RAY. I probably will at some time (when my current machine gives up the ghost) but, unlike my conversation from VHS to DVD, I will NOT be replacing much of that DVD collection with BLUE RAYS given (a) what I now have will show up better anyway and (b) being such a lover of “B” movies, the difference isn’t really going to be that noticeable.

  • Trisha Johnston

    A huge top-loading machine. It was heaven: all those shows I may not watch, but I could tape!!!!

  • BernardS

    I remember my first VCR, I also remember the days when I peruse each week’s TV Guide and always find something to record ( and keep for posterity, not necessary for future watching),

    my “homemade” video programs grew to 650 VHS tapes ! By that time, the LASERDISC format

    came on the scene and I was thrilled by the excellent picture quality of the laserdisc, that

    started my LD collection, and again 650 discs later, the DVD format came along…ah, eh …should

    I replace my Deluxe box set of “Gone with the Wind”(VHS) with the newly “restored” version on

    DVD ? You bet ! Who can resist that beautiful packaging of the GWTW DVD set ? Now, my

    son told me that the VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, are all OBSOLETE video formats, it is Blu Ray or

    Blu Ray 3D , HD or whatever… I am thinking of buying a Blu Ray player, but I will not buy the

    Blu Ray version of “Casablanca”. About my video equipment : My first VCR has long rested in

    a landfill, now I have a VHS/ DVD combo player, two LD players and I am VERY contented,

    each night I ask myself : Should I watch a DVD ? a VHS tape? or a laserdisc ? You know what ?

    I end up watching something on TCM or NETFLIX !!!!

  • Wayne P.

    My first VCR was right off the boat wholesale/mail order from New York and it was a Sony Betamax. Great quality but only 4 hrs. of recording time available compared to the VHS coming in at 6 hrs. So, that made up for the lack of quality when screening the tapes and comparing the VHS to the Betamax. Whats really a shame is Sony tried to ‘corner the market’ from what I understood and that means they probably wouldnt distribute the machines to retailers that wouldnt sell them to the exclusion of VHS players; at least, thats what that practice normally entails…but the market battle also reminded me, some years later, of Apple and their self-contained approach with the MacIntosh PC line, which was in direct competition with Microsoft, who pioneered licensing their software out to all vendor/suppliers!

  • http://twitter.com/Bryankr Bryan Ruffin

    Yes, I do remember it! My Dad was a T V repairman and vcr was something he did work on. The first one I ever used was a Beta; I liked it better, and so did Dad. Being in the business, he had an insight, and knew Beta was on it’s way out. He never went into why, just that it was. We got that first VHS, and paid, I think, $ 400 for it! It was good. I believe it was Sony. Hard to be sure, Dad brought in lots of them for repair, the names kinda run together after a while! I enjoyed the idea of being able to record a show for later, watch movies at home! Then, when Disc was introduced, you could get one with every imaginable bell and whistle for 50 bucks!

    • SaintLucifer

      Yes, beta was by far the superior format. Better, quality, sound etc. My father worked at a tv station where they ONLY used beta on their millions of dollars worth of equipment.

  • Sherlock47

    It was a Betamax and weighed a ton. Cost over $600 and we still have it due to my husband is a pack rat, I mean collector LOL. It had the controls on the machine that operated like the old channels on a TV at the time. First movie I bought was Saturday Night Fever which I think, cost me around $70.

  • JimB

    I had an early version VCR. Top loaded, heavy, remote ws a wired Pause button. No visual on fast forward or rewind. Blank tapes were $25. Price was $1200 I was the most popular person around because of it. Everyone wanted to see it work and were just amazed by it. To buy a movie was $100.

  • ndebrabant

    My first VCR was a top loader, two speeds (2 and 4 hr.) channel tuners like the first TV’s ( one forUHF and the other for VHF) and it couldn’t be set to stop. It ran until the end of the tape. It cost almost $1,000.00. The remote was attached with a wire. Blank tapes were around $25.00 a piece. Couldn’t afford to buy movies so I had to rent.

  • Andy

    I got a sanyo beta machine in 1979 . would rent from a “mom & pop ” store & later erols . I would tape a/lot off cable as well as buying the occasional used tape. It was still revolutionary for me to be able to do. Note I did have an uncle who had an open reel b&w.video recorder for TV or large camera back in the 60s’ so that was my first exposure to home video, but not to practical to use.

  • http://twitter.com/DavidWShannon Dave Shannon

    I know my first one was an RCA model, can’t remember which one. I do remember the first thing we taped on it:, Ivanhoe (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084157/)

  • Tony M

    I bought my first machine (VCR) in 1983. It was a front loading Ferguson Videostar (manufactured by Thorn EMI). The machine itself was larger than later models. It was fairly heavy for its size and made lots of whirring noises and took it’s time loading the tape. The remote control was almost the size of a house brick! Sometimes (after a year or so) the tape would jam itself in there and I’d have to take the cover off to force it out. The front loading hatch turned into a favourite hiding place for some of my sons toy cars.

  • James Ceallachain

    My family was poor, so we didn’t get one until about 1985. It was $259! o.O Front loaded. Wired remote with pause, fast forward, fast rewind. I don’t remember the brand, but it came from Sears. Maybe Sony? My favorite movie was ‘Excalibur,’ but it cost $99. The only guy at school who had two VCRs made me a copy for $25.

  • flyingtoupee

    My first VCR was a Christmas gift for the entire family from my parents in 1981. It was an RCA toploading machine with 2 heads, and up to 6 hours recording time. I remember that the day after Christmas my family and I went to MU the next day and joined the video rental club. I even remember the first movies we rented-FRANKENSTEIN, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, and SUPERMAN for myself, and THE QUIET MAN, DIRTY HARRY and URBAN COWBOY for my parents. I really grew to like THE QUIET MAN and DIRTY HARRY during that first week of movie rentals(we watched the movies over and over again). Never did care for URBAN COWBOY though.

  • Trailorman

    My first vcr cost about $250.00 and was a total piece of shit, only lasted about a year before I got tired of having it repaired. My last one cost $79.00 about 12 years ago and is still going, without ever being repaired, I guess they perfected them. I’ve got mostly dvd’s now but it still gets used occasionally.

  • hanson@panedexpressions.com

    I remember, in the very early 80’s, renting a VCR and 6 VHS tapes from a movie rental store and vegging out for the whole weekend. Eventually, I purchased my own player and collected/taped probably over 900 films which are now stored away in a cool dry place. I’ve since moved on to DvD/BluRay and won’t admit to how many I have. Have to blame it all on the first VCR spoiling me from having to go to the theater and listen to people crunch their popcorn and cough during quiet scenes. I’m a “film hermit” and admit it openly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Craig-Hallman/527809375 James Craig Hallman

    My first VCR came from Sears, cost me about $425 and I used my dog’s Sears Credit Card to get it. Huh?? Oh, yes it’s true, he actually had a Sears Credit Card.

  • Jody M

    October 1976: the original Sony Betamax. Could only get one hour to a tape. 1980: Second Betamax, with Beta II and Beta III recording speeds (and Beta I playback). A glorious time to be a videophile. My specific goal was to record episodes of The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves. Snow days when work shut down early – result: going home to watch Superman tapes. To quote John Kinsella (to son Ray) in Field of Dreams, “is this heaven?”

  • maryfrogs

    I not only remember my first VCR, I still have it! My husband was 30 when I first bought it and he’s 51 now. It still works great! We have moved on to DVD and now BluRay, but replacing the tapes takes time and money. We are getting there slowly, but theres just something about popping in a tape.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wallace-Bray/100001614411834 Wallace Bray

    Oh boy do I. It was 1978 and I paid $800 for it. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

  • William Sommerwerck

    Like Mr Weiss, my first VCR was an RCA 650 (made by Panasonic). The remote is corded, because IR remote controls had not gotten quite cheap enough to be commercially viable. (RCA’s next series used IR remotes.)

    I’d wanted Betamax, but I was working at the time for RCA at Suitland, and could get a demo unit at a good price ($750, I think), and have $100 a month automatically deducted from my paycheck. The unit was beautifully built, but the image quality was strictly VHS — soft picture, inaccurate/smeary color, and high timebase instability. It also had a weird timer. If a program ran from PM to AM, the timer would often — but not always — shut off the machine at midnight.
    My second VCR was a Sony 900 HiFi. (Still have it (to play concert recordings) and it works.) Oh, the difference. VHS is the worst-quality “successful” consumer product — of any sort — I’ve ever seen. It is garbage from beginning to end.

  • Psigar

    My first vcr was a GE top-loader – $563, one of first major expenses when I first moved out of my parents home. I had recorded a ton of tapes, and actually ended up owning my own video store and when it shut down, I still kept my inventory (still have it to this day). I only own a few movies on dvd (mostly fave movies or tv shows that only became available on dvd). For the most part now I stream my entertainment (unless I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, then it’s off to my video library).

    I pity the video recording devices of today (in some ways), most have no tuners, so one must rely on having another video source (such as cable or satellite). We who were here at the beginning of the home recording revolution were truly blessed.

  • BobK

    I sure do remember my first VCR. It was a Sony Beta, SL-5400. The picture was vastly superior but, the feature that really sold this unit for me was the fact that it was the first (I believe) Beta Hi-Fi stereo playback machine. What a thrill it was to “listen” to my “Raiders of The Lost Ark” (or the Connery Bond films with the John Barry scores engulfing my living room) Beta tape in true stereo separation. I’m still sorry to this day that Sony lost the “format wars” of the day.
    My first VHS from NEC, a supposed high-end company never came close to that Sony machine, and, after a while it began to “eat” my VHS tape!
    Look how far we’ve come today with Bluray.

  • Bob Riley

    My first VCR did not work due to a broken gear or something. The store took it back and I got a new one. Mine was a Panasonic. It was a great macine, easy to install (did it myself), program and operate. I am certainly no mechanical genius, but I never had any problems. Wish today’s gizmos were as simple as that Panasonic. I think it cost me about $350.00

  • KGSAlexandria

    My first was a Panasonic, all METAL and it weighed a lot, at least it seemed that it weighed 15 pounds. Corded remote with a pause feature and it cost over 300 dollars in the early 80’s. I used it for years and by the time I bought a 4 head VCR, DVD’s were just coming out and it a few years, you couldn’t give away a VCR. So I upgraded to DVD’s and NOW I have to upgrade to Blu-Ray DVD’s! However, the picture and sound quality do improve with each technological innovation.

  • Melvin

    We bought our first VCR in 1977, I think. It was a Panasonic top-loader, which cost about $998.00; the blank tapes cost about 26 bucks. The TV ads for it referred to “ReggieVision”, which allowed stop-motion, and slo-mo. Reggie Jackson (Mr. October) was the spokesperson. It was only about 3 mos old when it stopped working. The repair shop charged $65 to replace a diode which was in the circuit which raised & lowered the tape transport. I think we used it for two years; too many breakdowns.

  • danofan59

    I rented my first VCR, and I don’t recall the model, but after awhile I got a job at an electronics store and set my sights on a Mitsubishi HS-330UR deck. High-end, it had “linear” stereo (pre-Hi-Fi, and no MTS yet). Because I was an employee, I got a discount and paid $900 for it. The unique configuration of its recording heads meant it got a really good picture, especially at the LP speed, but the drum tended to go out of alignment over time, so eventually I was recording things that could never be played back on any other machine.

  • Newslurker

    Mine was a Radio Shack Realistic (I don’t recall the model number), purchased around 1985-86. It was manufactured by Sanyo. Paid $700 for it, which was a good price at the time. It was one of the first Hi-Fi models, which had the best audio quality possible on VHS (near CD quality).

    It could also decode stereo TV broadcasts, and record FM stereo simulcasts with video. At that time local PBS stations would air concert programs (in mono) and the companion FM NPR station would air the audio in stereo. That VCR could record the video from the cable and sound from the receiver together, resulting in a high quality stereo tape.

    I now have a combination VHS and DVD recorder, allowing me to transfer those VHS recordings to DVD (also have a DVD player, Bluray player, Laserdisc player and CD player/recorder).

  • D Downing

    Remember it? I still Have it someplace!

  • Marie Love

    My first VCR was a VHS that I spent $1000.00 to buy. I didn’t have a car at the time so this monster weighing at least 20lbs was carried to the bus stop in front of the store and then from the bus stop home about a 1/4 mile. I was so excited. I had also bought my first movie at the same time and watched it several times.

  • JimmyC

    I also have my original Sony VCR…the SL8200 top-load. I purchased the optional 1 day/1 event detachable timer to go with it. As far as I know, everything still works…it’s has been boxed up for years, in the original box! I still have three other models as well, up to the Super Betamax Model SL-HF900, which I did use for editing videos until I figured out to use my computer! As you said, Beta was the superior format quality-wise, but the two hour tape limit at the time hurt Sony as well.

  • ray

    I remember my first vcr (top loader) very heavy and cost over $1000.00. My first blank VHS tape was $18.00. I also bought a few movies that cost around $65.00 each. Boy have things changed.

  • Denny L.

    my first vcr was a Sony Betamax I bought in June 1977.It cost 900.00 dollars and recorded a 60 min. tape. I lived in Queens,N.Y. and I worked in Manhattan.I bought blank tapes from Crazy Eddie stores for 15.00 dollars.Other stores were charging 20-25 dollars for a tape. The machine worked great.It had a cable remote and a clock timer attached to the machine. In 1980 I bought a Zenith SL-5800 beta machine which recorded in 3 speeds SP,LP, and SLP. 2-4-and 6 hours.It also had a cable remote and built-in timer.The first movies I bought were “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” for 20.00 each. My nieces and their friends would come over on Saturdays and watch the movies I taped and bought. In 1986 it stopped working so I bought an RCA vhs machine.It worked until 1997. Then I bought a Broksonic vhs machine for 100.00 dollars which I still use in 2013.I am now transfering my tapes onto DVDs. I have about 300 vhs tapes. I moved to St.Petersburg,Fl. in Nov. 2006 and have cable service and I record shows on tape and dvd.

  • doppleganger

    MY FIRST WAS A HUGE BETA MAX BACK IN THE LATE 60’SON TAPES DOUBLE THE SIZE OF VHS THE YEARS LATER GOT A VHS RECORDER HAD 350+ tapes until they degraded now doing DVD

  • bruce

    It was a sony betamax.Better picture quality but it never took off on the east coast.Heard it was much more popular on the left coast.Now we dvr things just not as much fun.Blueray 3d has now spoiled me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Ivie/821714719 Charles Ivie

    My first VCR was a Sony Top Loader U-Matic back in 1975. It recorded for one hour on 3/4 inch tape cassettes. It was a real monster by today’s standards but it did record a beautiful picture. It was actually a broadcast quality machine that I got at a NASA auction. Before that I had a Sony B/W reel to reel VTR, That was in the late 60’s.

  • chrijeff

    I bought my first VCR in 1983, specifically because I wanted to tape “Simon & Simon,” “Riptide,” and “Hardcastle & McCormick.” Later I got another one, hooked them together, and copied commercial tapes, because in those days they cost $50 or more and weren’t protected. (Well, honestly, who in those days didn’t do that if they could figure out how? $50 for a movie? Get real!) And I taped hundreds of movies off cable, and a few old TV shows, though even then they weren’t rerunning very many that I wanted. Over time I owned, I think, four different VCR’s and accumulated over 600 tapes, most in six-hour mode, which I still have (one of these days I have to get a DVD-R/VCR). Now my primary mode of viewing is DVD, which I especially love because it offers season sets of old TV series–like the old Westerns, “Rawhide,” “Wagon Train,” “Laramie,” and so on, that I dearly love–in a compact, space-saving form. Of course it’s going to take them another 20 years to get all the old stuff onto disc–it took 15 or so to get the variety that they did onto vid, and there were less movies then!

  • Celorica

    I remember my first VCR because I still have it and it still works! It is a top-loading Magnavox with wired remote and it weighs a ton.

  • Steve

    I bought my first VCR – Panasonic – in 1980, at the incredible high price of $800. A lot of money at that time. I bought it at Crazy Eddies – “Our prices are INSANE!!!!”
    I ‘ll never forget my excitement. I lugged it home – it was big and heavy – and set it up. The first pre-recorded movie I watched on it was 1953’s The War of the Worlds. What a rush I got when the movie first flashed across the screen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.hafner.79 Stephen Hafner

    I bought my first VCR from Sears. I paid $50 extra to get the stereo option. When I got home I hooked it up to my TV and home stereo. The first film I rented was The Right Stuff. The sound quality was so good I almost cried. I could actually hear a plane going from right to left.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hal.edwards.73 Hal Edwards

    My first VCR was purchased around 1985. I saved up for about a year to buy a JC Penney model VHS 4 head machine with all the bells and whistles such as slo-mo, freeze frame,etc. for around $400. I also paid “membership” fees of around $20 each for several mom and pop video stores. I loved recording TV shows and movies, especially in the middle of the night, and every Friday after work I would stop at a video store and rent a couple of movies.

    I’m currently using a Sony DVD/VHS combination player/recorder to dub my old tapes to DVD. When I moved I realized I must have hundreds of them!

  • http://twitter.com/MomWizCom Robin Burns

    Oh, yes, that first VCR! We purchased the wonderful monster with the entire honorarium from my first television series, an arts and crafts show for TV23 in Pensacola, so I could tape the show. Problem is, we moved to Oregon before the series aired and didn’t subscribe to cable – so when it was on there all we got was the audio and a screen full of snow. I never did see it! (anybody out there got tapes of “9 Patch Palace”. . .?) I think somebody in the family still owns the machine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fantasticdoug Doug Bruner

    I sold consumer electronics during those early days. The first consumer VCR the store I worked at sold was the Sony Beta machine. It was sold without a TV tuner. The tuner was a small box that sat on top of the VCR and was plugged into the back of the VCR. It was considered an optional accessory for the Beta recorder. Because the Beta video tape cartridge was smaller than VHS, the Beta VCR was also smaller than the VHS version. The first VHS (Video Home System) video recorder I sold was the RCA with a built in VHF/UHF rotary mechanical tuner with dual tuning knobs similar to those found on old analog TV sets. The RCA machine sold for $1000.00 and my store sold them as fast as the shipments arrived. I remember one customer bought one of the RCA machines and a month later he bought another one. I believe the first model of the VHS recorder had only two speeds-SP and LP. SP was for the highest quality two hour speed and LP recorded at half speed allowing four hour recordings. Later models added the third speed SLP (later know as EP) that recorded one third the original SP speed providing up to six hours of recording. Blank tapes were not cheap in those days either. A single Beta or T-120 VHS tape sold for $19.99 and customers buying the VCR usually bought two or three blank tapes to record on. A few customers splurged and bought a carton of 12 blank video tapes. Sometimes, we had a problem keeping plenty of video tapes in stock and placed a limit of 3 or 4 tapes a customer could buy. Once the supply caught up with demand,the ban was lifted. Those were the days!

  • http://www.facebook.com/maron.thorne Maron Thorne

    I got my first one in 1984. It was an RCA 4head but I don’t remember what I paid. I remember being really excited about taping as I worked nights at the time!! My current DVR is my prize possesion!

  • pdrhodes@charter.net

    Yes: it was 1982; and Spokane, Wash electronics/TV company had a sale: a BetaMax: $800 bucks (on sale from $1200).
    So I went and bought it. I thought Beta was a better deal than VHS; also : (
    Anyway; it changed. I bought a VHS set later; and it was 300 bucks. Sigh.
    I still have the original BetaMax. Downstairs in a storage box.
    DVD’s for now; are in.
    So whats next? Thanx for the oppertunity to comment.
    PDR

  • Cheryl Ehrich

    I don’t remember the first VCR I bought but I remember renting VCRs. They were bulky and you carried them like a suitcase. They weren’t always available to rent as everybody wanted to do this and they were in short supply. Guess this REALLY dates me.
    NOTE TO ED:
    In the 2nd sentence in your 1st paragraph, you don’t need an apostrophe in VCRs. It’s just plural, Ed. e.g. 1 VCR, 2 VCRs, etc. etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jocelyn.haeberle Jocelyn Haeberle

    Our first video recorder was actually a reel-to-reel. My father ran a department called “Broadcast Services” at our local community college. One of his duties was to record programs off television for teachers to use in their classrooms at a later date. So that he didn’t have to constantly be in the studio on campus to record these shows, he simply brought one of the machines home. As technology advanced, the machines became smaller. The reel-to-reel tapes were about 1 to 1/2 inches wide, the first cassettes we had were 3/4 inches wide, then finally down to the 1/2 inch tapes. The first VCR (the reel-to-reel was a VTR, video tape recorder, VCR, video cassette recorder, came later) we had worked more like a Beta, always jamming and always eating up the tape. BAD. I am now 48 years old and barely have memories of life without a VCR. My friends were always coming over to watch movies, this was the only way we could watch what we wanted if it wasn’t going to be on TV. We had many wonderful shows on tape – Gone With the Wind, 1776, Sound of Music, Roots, I can’t remember them all! This is the norm now, back then it was amazing! I remember a discussion I had with my father once. He said something about someday every home would have a VCR in it. I couldn’t believe that. They were way too expensive! How could anyone ever afford to buy one for their home? The first VCR we ever bought for home use was a Quasar, top loader, better than Beta but still jammed a lot. And tapes were always busting off the spools when they were rewound. I quickly learned to take the tapes apart and repair them. And my friends were always having me come over to clean the heads on their machines because sometimes they were just not accessible. Well, we’ve come a long way since then. I keep my DVD burner busy making copies of family movies, etc. Still hard to believe, when I stop and think about it. I still have the catalog I made of all the VHS tapes I recorded over the years, insane how much money I put into it considering we have them all on DVD now. Well, most of them anyway. I have kept some VHS and am slowly burning them to disc simply because they are NOT available on DVD. Can’t be without my movies and shows, that’s part of my retirement!

  • Laura B.

    Yes, I had the Toshiba Beta. It was a Christmas present from my husband. We bought a 2 family house with my sister and her husband and they had a VHS player (with a wired remote!) before we had a VCR. If there was trouble with the VCR, my 2 year old nephew would go behind the television/VCR and fix it! Now I have three VHS/DVD combo players – 2 still in the box.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fantasticdoug Doug Bruner

    I remember when the arrival of Laser Disc caught my attention, I purchased a player that had auto-reverse function. On most players, the discs played for one hour then you had to eject the disc,turn it over,and play the second side. The auto reverse machines would pause for a few seconds at the end of side 1,the laser would align to side 2 and continue playing. It made watching a movie more enjoyable. Even though I bought a few movies (prices ranged from $30 to about $37) I found a video rental store where i could rent the movies and save money. Eventually, the video rental store began selling their old rental discs as their inventory grew. The old rental discs sold for about $15 so I bought several of them. Years later, my Laser Disc player broke down and I took it into a repair shop to be fixed. After keeping it a week, the technician told me that the cost of repair would be more than buying the new format that has replaced it. He said the new format is known as DVD (Digital Versatile Disc-today called Digital Video Disc ) which is fast replacing Laser Disc. So I threw my old Laser Disc player into a nearby garbage dumpster,sold my collection of Laser Disc movies to the video rental store I did business with,and bought my first DVD player. Today,movies in the DVD format can be found in some stores for as little as 50 cents. The days of the $30 movie on Laser Disc is now gone with the wind!

  • http://www.facebook.com/allan.j.krueger Allan J Krueger

    Sony Betamax, which lost out in the VCR battle because you could record on VHS for as long as 6-8 hours on a tape. Forget about the quality of the recording – longer was better!

  • http://www.facebook.com/eugene.higgins.14 Eugene Higgins

    My first VCR is the kind I had to put in the tapes through the top and close downwards.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fantasticdoug Doug Bruner

    I am amazed at how the VHS tape format has survived. You can still buy a new machine in a combo unit that also includes a DVD player. And I have even seen one that is a combination VCR recorder and DVD recorder with a digital tuner. Many retail stores are selling blank VHS video tape at low prices. I have seen used movies on VHS tape in charity thrift stores,used book stores,and on the internet. This is one video format many people still enjoy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.rhue.3 Jennifer Rhue

    -I was kind of late coming into the game because of finances. I got my first VCR in 1990. It was a 2-head and I can’t remember the brand. My first movie was Andre’s Mother with Sada Thompson which had been recorded off TV by a friend before I got my machine. My second VCR is a Toshiba 6-head which I bought in 1998. The picture quality is almost as good as a DVD player.

  • DennisM

    I got my first VCR at Christmas 1982. It was a big Magnavox top-loader. It was wonderful and lasted about twelve years. I remember how amazed I was when I recorded my first overnight movie, and was able to view it whenever I wanted. The movie was “The Battle of Britain.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/kenneth.hackney Kenneth Hackney

    A friend of mine had a Sony Betamax in 1977 and invited me to his house to watch Tora Tora Tora which took up 3 tapes. When RCA released their VTB-200 in VHS format which would record on 1 and 2 hour tapes in SP mode and hold 2 or 4 hours in LP mode I bought the first one that reached our local Woolco for $1000 in 1978. Not many places were selling video recorders then so I may have bought the first in town. VHS 2 hour tapes cost $25 blank. Commercial recordings had not been produced at that point, so there could be no video rentals. I collected movies, tending to put 2 on a tape because of the cost involved. Only special movies got SP speed and their own tape. Between 1978 and 1995 my collection grew to 2000 movies but the first 100 tapes were collected over about 5 years. My first recording was “Silent Running”. The “remote control” was a pause switch on the end of a 15′ cord that let you pause recording during ads. Some of the movies I had on VHS have STILL not been released on DVD. The early tapes were already wearing out when DVD came along and Laser Disks were still in use so my first DVD player was a Pioneer DVD/LD combo player. By that time my first VCR had been donated to a DayCare center and I was using a 4th or 5th generation unit with Super-VHS. Like all first generation electronics, that RCA VTB-200 was mostly metal and built like a tank. 20 years later it was still going playing tapes for the kids at that center.

  • Tom

    In the early 1980’s my mother and father gave me a VHS player for Christmas, and my motehr said I could pick any video I wanted to start off my collection. I opted for my favorite movie (still) “The Awful Truth” with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. God bless her – it cost almost sixty bucks back then! Even though I have since purchased a DVD (for a lot less!) I kept it for the sentiment. And it still makes me howl with laughter!

  • Michael

    I saw my first VHS VCR in action when I went with my cousin to a Panasonic Open House for distributors in Albany, NY back in late 1977 or early 1978. I fell in love with the VHS Panasonic PV1000. It was a top load with 2 record speeds (SP & LP, SLP was not available on machines yet) with a timer & a corded remote (for pause & un-pause). I had him order one for me on our way home to Vermont. I got it at cost & the price was around $1100. Blank tapes were hard to find back then. When you found someone who sold them, the price was over $20 for one T-120 tape. Needless to say, I did not do much archiving of video stuff back then. It was great to be able to time-shift to get shows on late at night that I would not have been able to watch otherwise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bobby-Decker/1369125171 Bobby Decker

    I most surely was the Rip Van Winkle of the gang !……I got the cheese pizza model from J.C. Penny’s in 1986 { also first year to own CD player } for $399.99 !……of course I flopped it out { my credit card } why was,nt I recording all those good old classic TV shows when I had the chance back then ?…….oh yea !…….blank tapes were $3.99 apiece then !

  • http://www.facebook.com/nathan.watson.543 Nathan Watson

    My parents bought a Beta in 1980. I was 6 years old. For the next few years, nobody I knew had a VCR at home. In fact, when I told my friends about it at school – nobody believed me! They didn’t think it was possible for anyone to record off the TV. Everyone said I was making it up. This went on for a few years until they became more commonplace by the mid 80s. The Beta came with 1 tape. Can you imagine that? They wanted to make sure you had 1 blank tape to use and my parents bought 2 additional tapes. The blank tapes were at least $20 each so they were quite a luxury! My mom used 1 tape to record music stuff, a 2nd tape for favorite movies (Casablanca ended up being stored on that tape #2) and the 3rd tape was used to tape tv programs that we’d watch later! For months, we taped Combat! and The Fugitive (in reruns of course) late at night cause my mom loved both programs and shared em with us kids the next day. Crazy memories…..

  • Ohmstara

    I was just a child, but our family’s two first VCRs were a Fisher model and a Emerson (yes, Emerson if I remember correctly). Ironically, I was probably the one who got the most usage out of our family’s VCRs, being an only child at the time, and having parents who were too busy working to scope out public television like I had the opportunity to. They would use our second VCR which was attached to a rather large television in the basement just to watch movies at night, occasionally. But, I got the most use out of it overall.

    Really, just to say: I grew up in a time where public television and computers really didn’t expose, potentially, too much adult material for it to be an issue to let a child monopolize the media devices in the household. It was an interesting time.

    It also was interesting how the record function on the Emerson was integrated with the Play function. In other words, you had to “simultaneously” (truly a word for the 80’s, used frequently in the contexts of VCRs and Nintendo video games) press the Play and Record buttons (even on the remote) for it to record. That it was the same on the remote kind of indicates to me that it really wasn’t necessary to implement it in this way. I don’t know if this was something related to its engineering, but it was kind of an annoyance. However, there were even audio cassette recorders implemented in this way.

    It was always tempting to leave the tracking in the middle, where usually the rotating knob would click into its niche, which was a good thing. I usually didn’t notice the difference where the tracking from recordings from other VCRs would differ drastically on a relative scale, meaning that the “center” tracking usually followed apparently set standards across models. But, some people liked to be different and modify it (or perhaps didn’t bother changing it back to center once the foreign recordings were finished being played). And, indeed, one could somewhat ruin their recordings by modifying the tracking while it was recording.

    I liked the Fisher model because it was sleek with a black finish, along with its deep blue text coloration. Really gave you the impression that is was a fine piece of machinery. I’m surprised Fisher didn’t survive into the future. I believe that the 80’s were the first time in history where consumer electronics began to take on sophisticated “appliance” looks.

    Anyway, it seems that my grandparents (now deceased) couldn’t survive without being able to time-shift their soaps.

    Overall, I’m glad the US Supreme Court in the 1980’s allowed for the the legalization of VCRs, and even video game arcades, both of which have prominently influenced modern times. Video games might have simply “remained just a fad” if the arcade industry didn’t have the commercial power behind it to see it progress forward. Underground movie creation wouldn’t have take off either, seeing that there wouldn’t have been a medium for presentation like VCRs.

  • Jim

    I had the same VCR except it cost me $1200.00. It worked great. I still have vidios that I recorded on it.

  • PatrickM

    Sony Betamax SL-8200. $1200. Had to buy an optional timer for $100 to turn the machine on at a set time but would only turn the machine off after 4 and a half hours. How primitive. NO remote. VHF-UHF tuner only no cable. Those were the days. Blank L-500 2 hour tape $18. This was in late 1977…

  • Ohmstara

    Also, don’t forget the VCR Plus+, a universal remote control that had a computerized algorithm worked out for it so that you would just input a string of numbers, and it would send “record” and “stop” signals to your VCR. They were all published in TV Guide for awhile.

    But, what I recall about it that was so neat was that someone reversed engineered the algorithm and released a freeware program which would allow you to create custom VCR Plus+ codes. Really liberated the experience!

  • ron

    i remember mine that tape eating thing cost me $900 and then some kid stuck a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in it and it never worked again.

  • http://twitter.com/AFBattershell1 A. F. Battershell

    My first VCR was a dinosaur, in the ’80s. To pre-program it required 28 steps and I actually developed the patience to complete the process!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angel-Luna/776469834 Angel Luna

    I bought a Beta machine in Sears…they said it had a better image…I still have a lot of tapes recorded in this mono vcr and it gave me great times in 1983.

  • kit

    My first VCR was a Sony Beta II, cost $1200. Must have been in 1978 or 79. Loved it. It weighed a ton and required another TV stand next to the TV.

  • RADIOMAN

    VCR STILL THE BEST FOR MOVIES AND TO RECORD AND WATCH TV SHOWS. TAPES LAST A LONG TIME.. I WISH I COULD STILL BUY NEW VCR WITH BUILT IN DIGITAL TUNER AND ANALOG TUNERS . DVDS A OKAY IF YOU RECORD SOMETHING THAT YOU WANT TO SAVE FOR EVER AGAIN IF DVD USED WHERE CAN YOU BUY NEW DVD RECORDER WITH BUILT IN DIGITAL AND ANALOG TUNERS TO YOU CAN RECORD RIGHT OFF CABLE OR ANTENNA AND WATCH ANOTHER CHANNEL AT SAME TIME.

  • JR

    My Dad sold audio visual equipment so in jr. High we were the first home to have both a 50 lb VCR and a rear projector screen TV. Those were the days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teddy.gingerich Teddy Gingerich

    My first VCR was a top-loader bought in the early 80’s, and cost me $500. Wired remote, heavy as the dickens. At the time, it was the coolest thing ever!

  • John M

    In around 1982, I bought my first VCR…a Panasonic Omnivision Stereo for $750….it was great, so I bought another one for the upstairs’ TV. I recorded many movies from the pay TV Cinemax at the time that are still in good condition. Both still are working well….I no longer record off the TV, but am able to watch all my vintage VHS tapes including the long version of “Midway” which is not available anywhere. When the local Hollywood Video rental was going out of business, they had a “fire sale” on all their VHS tapes, and got a bunch of classic hard to find tapes for less than $1 each. These two VCRs have given me so much enjoyment throughout the years.
    It was great reading your story and the enjoyment they provided you over the years..

  • RonnieG

    My first VCR was an RCA SelectaVision that I purchased in 1978 for $999.99. It had only two speeds and the timer could only be used as a 24 hour setting. This VCR came with a 10 – 15 foot cord with a button so that you could sit on your couch and pause for commercials during recordings without having to get up. Our VCR also had an input jack so that you could hook up a video camera as well as a microphone jack with a special button for dubbing in your own audio. Color video cameras cost several hundred dollars so we settled for a black and white camera for $150.

    There were no video rental stores yet and blank videocassettes sold for $24.99 at your local TV and appliance store. These videocassettes were also heavy as they weren’t mass produced yet with cheap plastic. We had the VCR sitting atop a piano bench in front of our RCA color television. When company would come over they would point and ask, “What’s that?” People thought it was wild that you could record programs off your TV. But their mouths always dropped open when they learned of the price. It wasn’t until a year later in 1979 that Fotomat introduced video rentals. They were priced at $9.99 for a three day rental. The Fotomat also started offering blank videocassettes at $19.99 each, Pre-recorded videos on VHS were offered at $49.95 each the following year in 1980. Titles like “Psycho” and “Love Story.” Also that same year the first hole-in-the-wall video rental store opened up in our area.

    We used that VCR around the clock and when it broke down two years later the cost of repair was $100. When it broke down again in 1982 we decided to junk it. I bought our second VCR in 1983 for $599. A Zenith now with three speeds.

    At one time I thought the VCR was the greatest invention in the world. But I’ve been using a DVD recorder now for the past 11 years. The picture quality is far more superior than videotape and I can record hundreds of programs from television without having to worry about storing any bulky videocassettes.

  • Ed C.

    My first VCR – Panasonic. I forgot the model, but it was heavy and I distinctly remember it cost $800. This must have been in the late 1970’s or 80’s and at that time anything under $1000 was a bargain. I still think it was the best machine ever made. I still watch a Three Stooges marathon I taped on Thanksgiving from 1987 (26 years ago). Ah, the memories. I still have many pre-recorded VHS tapes simply because they have not come out on DVD. Fortunately, I have the VHS/DVD combo.

  • Jim

    I remember that my first VHS machine was a Magnavox (don’t remember the model), and it was as big and heavy as a suitcase full of plutonium. I think this was around 1981-82. At the time, I thought it was serious magic, a gift from the heavens. Within a couple of years, I thought it was a clunky artifact. Changing technology makes fickle folks of us all!

  • drdush

    I remember it was an $800.00 Magnavox and also weighed a TON but it worked great for years and cause I am a recycle nut it was fixable!!!The guy was so excited he could fix it instead of all the throw aways he saw in later years. Loved it!

  • jettabee60

    My first VCR was a Panasonic top loader I purchased in 1985 and it lasted for years.

  • Randeroo

    It was VHS, I think it was a Magnavox, it was a top-loader, and we were the first family in the neighborhood to own one. Neighbors used to come over and watch movies with us because it was such a novelty. The first movies we owned were Star Wars and The Kids Are Alright. Among the first ones we rented for our movie nights were Firefox (with Clint Eastwood) and Inside Moves (with John Savage and David Morse).

  • Bartstarrr15

    I worked for RCA in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s and bought a VHS in 1980 for $650. It had large push buttons, like the kind on an old audio cassette tape recorder. It think it finally died in the mid 1990’s.

  • Donald Ciccone

    I bought my first VCR in 1981. A Toshiba Beta (not hifi). It was a real workhorse for a decade. Not only did it record and play tapes well but it also functioned as a much better tuner than was in my tv as it had tiny knobs where you could fine tune each channel. I picked up stations I never could get with my tv or any VCR after that. I still have practically all the tapes I made with that machine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004488580416 John Patterson

    I got my first VCR in February 1989.I got my tax refund so I cashed it and got my brother in law to take me to the Wal Mart in LaGrange,Texas and I bought it.
    An Emerson.Paid $150.00 for it
    First movie I rented after I bought it was”The Hustler”with Paul Newman.

  • JEV78CO

    No only do I remember my first VCR, I still have it.

    • fbusch

      It was 1980, The machine was a Magnavox Portable, (yeh right, 18 lbs.) with a color video camera, ( another 10 lbs.).Drug it around outdoors to games and contests, (used an external 20 amp hour batt. hauled it on a folding luggage carrier, so it would record longer than 45 min. later bought a pair of huge hot 6500 degree kelvinlites to record evenings and indoors. And yes, while not in use now, it’s still here, upstairs covered with dust. My newest camcorder weighs about a lb. and a half, does hidef, takes stills while recording, and is already obsolete. In 1982? , the first Star Wars tape was released, ($119.95), still has the price tag on it.

      • Katy

        My parents got married and bought their VCR HITACHI VT-tu7ay tuner and video deck combo and my dad carried the video deck with a strap on his shoulder to make home movies, I was born in 1984 and we never had cable growing up and they always said it was the $1000 vcr recorder or cable and they made their choice, and we used it till DVD players came out and my parents still don’t have cable, but they do have Netflix as of 6 months ago they never use, that’s all I have now because I didn’t grow up with cable channels and and back then we had 3-7 channels with fuzzy pictures and antennas, still have antennas but the free channels are 12 – 20 and digital so either picture is perfect or not at all, at least if you had to see that show it was fuzzy but you got used to it. So I’m cleaning out my parents basement and I found this awful thing that destroyed my childhood television popularity and every year I would offer up my birthday Xmas and my brother too x 4 years worth of gifts for basic cable and their deal they made before we were born in 82 &84 was not going to change even after it’s no longer used, I would love to find a collector of that 1980 old stuff to get a value on it and I doubt a grand will be offered but if a couple hundred if it’s rare or something because I can’t find the exact model anywhere online , I would spend it on cable and not tell them about it so when they turn on the tv it’s all premium HBO and cinamax , and it’s not breaking the deal cuz the vcr paid for it! However it would make more sense if I got cable at my house …. Hmm but I hate the damn thing so if anyone knows how to sell it for good value email me mcclaskykaty@gmail.com. Thanks!!

  • Calssic Movie Lover

    Yes, I do remember my first VCR. Myfamily and I were very excited and rented a movie the first night I got the VCR. I became a member of Blockbuster Video and rented movies constantly. I had manage to collect most of the Universal Studios horoor movies on VHS and played them constantly on my VCR. I managed to build up quite a collection. I think I had a top of the line Zenith VCR. I think back on those days and look at how far technology has come. I still have my VHS movies but now I have a DVD player that also plays VHS movies. I will never part with my VHS tapes but the Zenith VCR has long since gone by the wayside. Watching movies have come a L-O-N-G way.

  • Nicolas

    We bought our VCR (VHS) in December 1983. It was for more than $500.00, we also bought a Zenith TV, on 19 inches, also for about $500.00, but it cost less than the VCR. Our first movie for the whole family was Best Friends with Burt Reynolds and Goldie Hawn. I remember how clear the picture was, so sharp. It was amazing for me to think that we might be the only people watching this movie that night. The idea of also being able to watch what you wanted to watch by just going to a store to pick up a movie was incredible to me at the time.

  • rierie

    My first VCR was something to remember. I bought just about every “tape” of any movie I liked. Of course the VCR is still used today but every tape I owned started showing wear & tear from stretching or some other catastrophe that befalls the strip of ribbon. When DVD’s showed up, buying a DVD was just as exciting to purchasing and BLU ray purchases came with 3D viewing. To purchase a Black ‘n’ White on BLU ray? Consider the extra cost of replacement to the cost of this DVD which can be viewed on BLU ray, and only improves the quality of the disk, not the movie itself.

  • Then to Now

    My first VCR was a Beta from Radio Shack. Not a great machine, but good enough to play the movie library I accumulated and the home movies I recorded on my Sony Betamax Camera that I paid a whopping $1200 for in 1982 0r 1983, I believe. Can’t remember the date exactly. No longer have the player/recorder but still own the camera. Unfortunately it has no playback capability. Today I own several DVD players, three DVD recorders and three Sony Blu-Ray players. My recording camera is a digital Sony that also projects the playback on the wall or a screen. Very cool! Have over 1500 DVDs in my movie collection and about 400 Blu-Ray movies. HD is amazing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pete.bausys Pete Bausys

    I sure do remember my first VCR. You always remember your first. Three of
    us went to a video store in a strip mall on 127th and Ridgeland and they had an
    RCA for less than 500 bucks. It was built like an army tank and weighed almost
    as much. My friends said it was a pretty good deal so I bought it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Gaffney/1450547336 Matt Gaffney

    I bought a JVC VCR from Laguna Stereo in Laguna Beach, Ca. in 1980. As I recall it was about $1,000 & had a corded remote. I traded it for a Makita Electric Chain saw about 10 yrs later when I got another JVC. It worked well for what it was. I’ve got no complaints. I used to buy VHS tapes from Costco to record movies, & I transferred a some of them to a Compact Disc with a Panasonic combination recorder I have now. I’ve kept some of my old tapes, things that’ll never come out on CD.

  • Mayka

    I bought my first VCR in 1983 just to tape the Thorn Birds mini-series. I paid around $800 (a lot of money, but worth it for a person that loves movies) plus $50 for installation since I did not have any idea on how to install it. I had it for over 10 years until my first son started putting food and other objects inside because it was very intriguing to him.

  • dragonfire_777

    My first was a Sony Betamax in 1978. I bought it to record the original Battlestar Galactica. Was always a beta fan and mourned when VHS won the format wars. I still own one betamax machine that still plays those tapes!

  • MDS

    My first VCR was purchased in 1979, a top loading Panasonic PV-1600. I
    had it before I had a color TV. It was bought on clearance for $800.
    Like most early top loaders, it was massive, with piano key controls.
    It had individually tunable channel presets, four event program timers
    (you could actually program it to PLAY at a certain time, as well as
    record) and a wired remote pause. It even had an accurate, repeatable
    timer. I put together a chart to show me how far I was into the
    recording, based on the counter number. had it for about 5 years,
    until a cap burned out in the power supply. You can see it at:
    http://vintageelectronics.betamaxcollectors.com/panasonicvhsvcrmodelpv-1600.html.

    I
    had it mainly to time shift, as I often worked second shift. It
    allowed me to watch Airwolf, as iI wasn’t home when it was broadcast. I
    could skip commercials by touch (no picture scan) and usually not miss
    the next part of the show.

    I rarely bought movies on tape,
    because of the cost. That was about $100, at first. Blanks at the
    time could be had for $20. But I did buy the first Superman (1978) and
    2001. And the quality of the per-recorded tapes was usually inferior
    to the blank ones. Especially as the cost decreased. I had a copy of
    the first Batman (1989), that had dropouts at the beginning after a
    couple of plays. Even with a high end VCR (A JC Penny version of the
    Panasonic PV-1740), About that time, I went to Laserdiscs for the
    quality and durability (still have my first player and all of the
    discs). Many of the things I taped off the air were eventually replaced
    by DVDs, so the tapes were discarded a few years ago. But I still keep
    a few things, like a recording of the first shuttle take-off.

  • Jack

    Remember my first VCR. I still have it. It is collecting dust and the clutch which I had to replaced more than once is gone again. But I was the first in the neighbor and friends to have one. I paid $1000 + and it was layaway plan so it took awhile for me pay it off before I could take it home. It Magnovox Brand and I went to thier stories to rent tapes. Well the store is gone, the machine of it kind is heavy and thick to carry unlike today’s if you can find one and I have purchased other since then and tossed away when they die but I have a antique. The Model A of its kind. THe 3/4 inch kind is the Model T. I have thru four DVD’s but I still have mine first VCR and some the original tapes I used to record on..

  • Nate

    Mine was probably ’84. I bought it at Bamberger’s (department store) after work. I was in a hurry because the local UHF station was beginning Bruce Lee week that evening. Little did I realize that I would have to manually tune, then fine tune each station. Somehow, with no previous VCR experience, I managed to get it set up and working while only missing the first five minutes of the movie. I remember bleeding the mom and pop video stores dry and thinking I had died and gone to heaven when the first Erol’s opened in Philly.

  • Jepstr67

    Yes. Magnavox, first one with a digital tuner. Still have it.

  • Karen S

    Yes I remember the VCR in the day!!! 1985 Magnavox! We had just bought a new home, 3 small kids at home, no cable and no satellite just a TV antenna! Wheeeew, we’ve come along ways!

  • Jackie

    My first VCR was a Fisher..It was great! I bought a service contract with it ,thank-goodness,because it had some problems that first year and it did not cost me any labor or anything to get it fixed, I bet I must have recorded 100 movies !!I bought two special cabinets that were made to hold VHS tapes, I made up a notebook and had all my tapes in categories as to what Genre they were,I numbered them all and all I had to do was look up in my notebook as to what any friend wanted to watch and I would find it easily from my special cabinet, These cabinets were so cool;the main part held about 30 tapes then each cabinet had french doors that each held 30 tapes. I still own most of the VHS tapes with movies I recorded from late nite CREATURE FEATURE old films. Remember Dr. Madblood’s theater that featured old goodies” Monster on the Campus” or ” She Demon” ? I even have some really old superman VHS tapes that I bought., All these were purchased a long time ago,but still look great. I do not have the Fisher,any more but I have a Hitachi TV/VCR combo that works great.I still have my notebook,but I have to update it since I gave a lot of the ADVENTURE tapes away. I kept the Horror and Sci-Fi movies.as well as some cartoon marathons I recorded for my grandaughter.

  • Transomme

    We had a Fisher 4 Head Stereo VCR; Studio Standard series. I cannot recall the model number but I spent $1000 on this in October 1983. It was the most beautiful device I had ever seen at the time. No other toy, before or since, can compare to it in my estimation. It represented something marvelous. Imagine, scheduling a recording for up to a week (or two?) ahead of time. It suddenly seemed that everything was within our grasp. The stereo output was fed into our Fisher Stereo system and, if I chose to, the sound shook the rafters. For ten times the price I do not believe that I could recreate the feeling of bringing home this VCR and putting on Apocalypse Now, Patton or any film with a thunderous soundtrack. With everything that is available at our fingertips today there’s a tendency toward becoming jaded with what we have.

    The Fisher served us for seven years, functioning smoothly, until that day in November of ’90 when it chewed up our copy of Tim Burton’s/Michael Keaton’s; Batman. The replacement was a Panasonic 4 Head stereo unit which cost one-third of the Fisher. The ‘Panny’ served for 11 years (receiving lighter use than the Fisher along the way) until being relegated to the hall of memories with the Fisher stacked atop each other in the living room with the advent of DVD. We watched most of our movies in the den/family room where the larger room offered better seat arranging.

    My last sight of both units was in 2003, a year after my wife had died and we were selling the family domicile; our daughter married and living some 130 miles from her former home. I recorded scores of TV programs for her; Garfield, Charlie Brown and The Wizard of Oz to name a few. The Fisher was that essential toy which saved things we could share in a time when my family was young and coming. My daughter and son-in-law cleared the home of bulky material things, with a lot of help from their friends in just 8 hours, just before the house went to settlement. The Fisher was a real thing of beauty, strictly as material things go, and I miss the era that ran parallel to it being among us and entertaining us.

  • T Weber

    Rec’d as a family Christmas present in 1984 – I was 13 at the time… First VCR was Quasar – 2 head, analog tuner for 13 channels – it was a top-loading VCR and had proven itself to be quite the workhorse for at least 10-12 years before we upgraded to another brand.

    I was so excited because that meant I could record my soap opera favorite, SANTA BARBARA while I was away at school. I recall the first movie we watched on the VCR – rented from a VCR rental store – MR. MOM starring Michael Keaton. At first I did not know how to rewind the tape when done. I thought the only way to rewind was to reverser-search all the way to the beginning of the movie!!! The first videotapes we purchased were some of the Disney cartoons and animated features in Clamshell packaging and also some of the MGM movies, which were in large cardboard cases – such as POLTERGEIST and THE WIZARD OF OZ, and the movie BEASTMASTER.

  • Cara

    Our first VCR was an expensive one. We could watch movies, but we could also detach part of it so that it became a VHS camera/recorder. The kids loved that. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven because of the increasing bounty of rental films. Every time I’d go into one of my favorite rental stores, there would be something new I wanted to take home. The movies I’d seen and wanted to see again. The movies I’d missed and read about. All the old Cary Grant titles. I must have rented and watched Indiscreet twenty or more times. I can remember the first VHS movie I bought. Rose Marie with Jeanette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy. I was afraid if I didn’t buy it right then, I wouldn’t get another chance. Most of the rental and retail stores were of the mom and pop variety. The tastes of the owners could be seen in their wares. I felt like the 20th Century version of the printing press had been invented. For the first time we, all of us, had access to the greatest art form of the 20th Century. It was possibly one of the most dramatic changes in my life.

  • Mike

    I had one of those, too, Ed. I paid what was probably the Suggested Retail Price, about $1400 (plus tax) from a audio/video store. I think they threw in a couple of blank tapes as an “incentive” lol, wow, what a deal! I specifically remember buying it Election Day, Nov. 1980 By the time I got it home from work, the first TV I saw was a sea of blue on the NBC election map (blue was the GOP color then) Got the election coverage on tape and later that month, the Who Shot JR episode. I think I still have all of this, including the VCR! I chose the corded remote over a Mitsubishi wireless due to the salesman’s recommendation of the unreliability of wireless back then. I also enjoyed the “double speed” function on the RCA, made it nice to scan thru huddles between plays in football. Good times.