Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Last Rewind

A pioneer technology is fading away.

On a crisp Friday morning in October, the final truckload of VHS tapes rolled out of a Palm Harbor, Fla., warehouse run by Ryan J. Kugler, the last major supplier of the tapes."It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Kugler, 34, a Burbank businessman. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away."

I certainly agree with this....

If you rewind back to the 1980s, VHS represented a remarkable turning point for the American consumer......."It was a sea change," says Leonard Maltin, the film critic and author who has written stacks of books to meet the consumer need for video recommendations.

The article talks mainly about the pre-recorded video industry, but creating the means for anyone to record video and audio onto what was - compared to film and reel-to-reel videotape - a relatively robust and easy-to-handle medium was a real revolution.

Remarkably, my small high school had one of the first VHS machines - with a camera and microphone, no less. It weighed roughly 50 pounds and had that memorable electro-mechanical tape-handling apparatus that ejected with a loud ka-chunk. It was used to record various school activities. At home basketball games it was run by a classmate who set it up behind the scorers' table, where I worked as official scorer; we would occasionally try to call the games, to the chagrin of the coaches and players who watched it later.

My college roommates and I rented many a movie. For a while the local adult shop even offered delivery; you could call and order a VCR and movies from a list advertised in a free weekly paper. I still wonder how they got away with publishing that list (with such classics as "Spank Me Daddy" and "Inside Seka") without incurring the wrath of the local prudes.

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