VHS stands for Video Home System.  The VHS Tapes were used to record television programmes to allow these to be watched at a later date.  The taped recordings were recorded and played back on a Video Cassette Record (VCR) machine.

Television was broadcast live in the beginning because there was no way to pre-record the broadcast other than with traditional film, which was expensive and time-consuming. In 1951, Bing Crosby Enterprises (BCE), owned by actor and singer Bing Crosby, demonstrated the first videotape recording.

Crosby had previously incorporated audiotape recording into the production of his radio broadcasts, so that he would have more time for other commitments, like golf! Instead of having to do a live radio broadcast once a week for a month, he could record four broadcasts in one week, then have the next three weeks off.

Videotape is magnetic tape used for storing video and usually sound in addition. Information stored can be in the form of either an analogue signal or digital signal. Videotape is used in both video tape recorders (VTRs) or, more commonly, video cassette reorders (VCRs) and camcorders Videotapes are also used for storing scientific or medical data, such as the data produced by an electrocardiogram.

The first consumer video cassette recorders (VCR) were launched in 1971. Sony’s Betamax system competed with VHS throughout the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Sony persuaded the MITI to adopt Betamax as the standard and allow it to licence the technology to other companies. Betamax’s major advantages were its smaller cassette size, theoretical higher video quality, and earlier availability, but its shorter recording time proved to be a major shortcoming.

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More information:

Date 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 1950s
Material(s) Plastic
Item number MBPO348

Questions to help you remember using this item

  • Did you have a Video Tape Recorder or perhaps you still have?
  • What types of programmes do you like to record?

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