Rewinding the nostalgia on National VCR Day
It changed the way millions of people watched television, bought movies and held onto memories. Happy National VCR Day!
Few things bring on that nostalgic feeling more than dusting off a VHS tape and throwing it into the videocassette recorder.
For decades, the VCR was the way to watch broadcast television. The ability to tape a show, and watch it at the convenience of everyone in the household, revolutionized how millions watched television.
It was not only a new form of convenience for everyone watching at once, but allowed for an at-home instant replay. Before the VCR, how many lines, puns and sounds were missed over the years because you stepped away from the TV? Rewinding meant always being able to go back for another look, listen or laugh.
Once VHS format became commercial in the '70s, homes exploded with several movies to throw into the VCR. Millions of households had multiple VHS tapes, and usually, a (rather big) place to store them as they added up.
The VHS and VCR combo dominated the '80s and '90s and went out with a bang, rivaling the rise of DVDs in the early 2000s.
A 2016 article from The Washington Post states 66 percent of households owned VCRs in 1990, but "peaked at about 90 percent of households in 2005."
Though the VCR gave viewers new features such as rewinding, pausing and even taping over a less-enticing show for a personal favorite, there were some unwritten rules to follow. There were also some frustrations that came with operating the VCR.
While we’ll always be grateful for the VCR, here’s a short list of the not-so-great aspects that came with owning one. Though it may bring back frustrating memories, it’ll certainly bring back the nostalgia this National VCR Day.
1. Keep the tape in the right case
When bingeing favorite movies or TV shows via VHS tape, the viewer had to constantly take a tape out, and put a new one into the VCR. More times than not, the tape found its way back to the correct case, but we all know that one person who would mix the tapes up every time. Though it could be frustrating to open the case of a film and not see the correct tape, it was more frustrating when the realization happened after the opening credits play.
2. Be sure to label correctly
Keeping home videos was a great way to hold onto memories. Whether it was recording the early stages of your kids or seeing the crazy outfit somebody was wearing 20 years ago, throwing a family home video into the VCR generally brought back all the feels. But be careful to label that tape correctly first, otherwise those cherished memories could get lost in the shuffle of tapes!
3. ''Be Kind Rewind''
Blockbuster was a VHS rental giant and "be kind rewind" was an amazing slogan that is, believe it or not, on T-shirts available for sale today. Of course, when renting a VHS tape from the former movie and TV rental powerhouse, the renter had to rewind the tape back to the beginning in their own VCR to avoid a fee. Fees aside, rewinding a tape was a courtesy to the next viewer, though it didn’t always happen.
4. The VCR chewed my tape!
It could happen when fast forwarding and pausing too frequently or when rewinding before taking the tape out of the VCR (part of the reason some didn't rewind?). But that crunching sound of the machine tearing up the tape inside the cassette is all too familiar. Almost immediately the viewer would know what was happening, and it was a race to eject the tape before too much damage was done!
5. Getting taped over
Of all the sometimes fussy and tedious steps to watching a tape with a VCR, arguably the most frustrating and deflating of them all would be when a favorite show, movie or long-lasting memory got taped over. Often times it was a family member that did the deed. Perhaps the tape wasn’t labeled or it was an honest mistake..... or they disregarded the label and taped over without a care in the world.
But I never had a VCR until 2004. I got a DVD player in late 2093, and started noticing VHS tapes being cleared out. So I spent $20 on a VCR complete in box with remote and manual, from a garage sale. So I coukd buy up all those VHS tapes being sold off, mostly a dollar or less. Slowly DVDs became cheap on the used market, so I coukd replace tge VHS tapes. Since I spent fifty cents or a dollar,it didn't matter to spend a few more dolkars for the same movie on DVD.
About 15 years ago, I was at a garage sale and for five dollars there was an 8track recording deck. Those were never popular, so it was a novelty. But I decided I didn't want more clutter. Next to it was a decent reel to reel, not the cheap kind from language labs. Onky ten dollars. I thought of how much I would have liked one in the seventies. And thought about what I could use it for now. And I decided there wasn't any use, digutal recording alk the way.
We still have a bricks and mortar video store called Black Dog Videos. They just recently decided to call it quits. Never went there, but kind of wish I did. Apparently besides the usual, they had old movies, silent movies and foreign films not available on-line.
Saw this one at sale preview for an online auction today... first try at posting a pic, hopefully it shows up. Earliest one I've seen in a long long time!
Shortly before Apollo 11, there were articles about photographing the screen of your tv set. You could always do that, but it was a big event that many might like to preserve.
So these are how tv memories were kept.
You could also be among the relative few that had video recorders that used reel to reel tape. No cassettes and expensive so uncommon. But they existed I guess from the early seventies.
I miss VCRs as much as:
Big, heavy, tube operated TV sets
5-1/4 inch floppy discs
Leaky cartridge fountain pens
AM radio static
Old records that skip
With VCR or cassette tapes, they are also subject to substrate stress from constant fast-forwarding or rewinding. In recording studios, tapes are usually stored "tails out" - meaning they are played forward on the reel-to-reel unit until the tape runs out in order to keep the tape tightly and uniformly packed. However, some studios do opt to simply rewind the tape after use.
Another issue that shows up (due to either tape defects or misuse) are signal dropouts or tape-over. They already mentioned tape-over in the article, but dropouts can be caused by dirty recording heads (few people *ever* cleaned their home audio or video unit heads with denatured alcohol), a defectively manufactured tape or brief exposure to an electromagnetic source.
I'm glad you still enjoy your VCR and tapes - but you couldn't give me them for free... That would be [for me] like trading in my CD collection for some old, worn 78 rpm records...
Still have record albums in boxes, but never play them. The old cassette tapes I tried to give away eons ago were also retrieved by my husband. He did use them in an older sports car for quite a few years.
Video Cassette Recorder to Voice Command Recognition. I'm sure there are other acronyms funny or not. Although maybe not observed it's said National DVD Day is April 4. 📀
I do have to laugh at people who could never quite figure out how to set one though, pretty funny! Not Rocket Science either!!
VCRs are here to stay
They will never die
It was meant to be that but I
Don't know why.
I don't care what people say
VCRs are here to stay.