R.I.P. V.H.S.

One of the most ubiquitous and successful electronic consumer products ever was the video cassette.

The BetaMax vs. VHS (Video Home System) format (war) notwithstanding, just about any civilised household in the modern world had (or still has) a VCR. Dropping costs and the superior quality of DVD (and its own successors, complete with a new format war) have, in recent years, all but caused the demise of the VHS format, and it is almost with a tear in my eye that I, too finally bid farewell to my own old VHS collection.

In retrospect, it was only in around 1989 that our household finally purchased a VCR — a second-hand Siemens FM 560 model from a couple of emigrants in Wendywood. Now earning my own salary, I let myself get coerced into forking out the cash to buy the item, along with some monstrous Grundig TV set that packed up soon after.

Nevertheless, what good is a VCR without any media to play on it?

Rentals, copies, porn, camcorder recordings… you name it, we got it, and we watched it. In fact, some of the media was so good it was worth watching again and again, and there you have it: Piracy. Home taping. Illegal copies. Yeah!

One of the benefits of satellite TV was the absense of ad breaks — perfect for those prepared to wait it out and hit the “record” button at just the right moment in order to save those great cinematic treasures for posterity. In fact, the first video to enter my collection proper as a “keep-copy” was a recording of Robocop off M-Net, made by a Greek fellow student whose name I cannot remember.

Robocop VHSAnother interesting observation of the time was that the resulting “artwork” consisted of whatever magazine cut-outs and other printed paraphernalia one could get hold of, with the credit list on the jacket’s backside initially having been typed out on a Siemens T1200 Telex machine, of all things!

Ah, those halcyon days before computers and laser printers invaded my household…

So, over the next few years some 70 movie and music videos were purchased or recorded and finalised, with the latter years’ output in sheer numbers even surpassing that of another childhood passion: the audio cassette. By 1999 the VHS-collection hobby had come to an almost screeching halt — around the time that I bought my first CD-writer, heralding the next obsession.

Natural Born Killers VHS
From Dusk Till Dawn VHSBut, there is an honest lining to all this shady activity: just about the entire video collection has since been replaced by nice ‘n legal DVD versions and pricy box sets.

VHS vs. DVDThere’s only so much you can do with magazine cut-outs.

Image credits: hmvh DOT net

This entry was posted in Media and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.