Old VCRs seemed like magic because you could tape your favorite shows & watch them later!

How old VCRs seemed like magic

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When these old VCRs first came out, they seemed like something magical — something of which dreams were made.

As people who had long been locked into TV show schedules — when a show aired, be tuned in or miss out — the promise of this new technology offered to open up a whole new world.

These vintage VCRs lived up to their promise, and ruled the television world for a couple decades. (Of course, the picture and audio quality wouldn’t fly today, but at the time it seemed pretty good.)

But like all wonderful new things, the earliest video cassette recorders/players came with a hefty price tag. Eventuyally, the price went down and the quality increased, and by the late 80s, pretty much everyone had one of the newfangled VCRs in their living room.

New VCR by RCA to debut (1977)

Daily Capital News (Jefferson City, Missouri) October 15, 1977

The fledgling home television video tape cassette recorder (VCR) industry, only a year old and with a mediocre track record among consumers so far, receives a big shot in the arm this month when RCA debuts its new four-hour SelectaVision.

As the industry’s first long-playing VCR and cheapest home video machine on the market to date, the new RCA cassette recorder promises to usher in the “new era of television viewing.”

“RCA’s delayed entry into the home video cassette field results in a product more in tune with the desires of the consumer for a superior VCR at an affordable price,” says Roy Pollack, a vice president of RCA.

RCA SelectaVision 1978
SelectaVision: Tape your favorite shows – watch them later! RCA’s new VCR (1977)

Pollack readily admits during an interview that the home VCR field is risky, noting that other major manufacturers have tried and failed to sell their machines.

As a result, he says, RCA is putting its reputation on the line with its SelectaVision.

But RCA officials are so convinced that SelectaVision will succeed that they expect to sell 250,000 video sets between October and the end of 1977.

SelectaVision, which will be available in retail outlets this month, will be priced at $1,000, some $300 below its nearest competitor. The unit will provide the choice of recording either two or four hours of program material on a single tape cassette. Current units on the market only offer two-hour capacity.

SelectaVision attaches to any brand of television receiver, and allows the user to record up to four hours of television in color for viewing at a later time. By using the built-in clock timer, programs can be recorded automatically if the viewer is away from home. You also can record the program being viewed or another program on a different channel at the same time.


RCA SelectaVision commercial – 1977

You’re watching television. We’re watching SelectaVision!”


Vintage Magnavox home video cassette recorder: The better one (1977)

VCR Magnavox 1977


Introducing the Ultimate VCR, from RCA (1985)

Video cassette recorders have come quite a distance, finally culminating in this marvel — the Ultimate VCR.

Why ultimate? Because it’s the first and only 7-head machine that’s remote-programmible, convertible and features VHS Hi-Fi.

Vintage RCA VCR (1985)


Zenith VHS Hi-Fi Stereo VCR (1985)

When you’re looking for a VCR, go with your ears wide open.

VHS Hi-Fi Stereo is where VCRs are going. And ours are already there. Zenith’s new VHS Hi-Fi Stereo VCRs. With the sound fidelity that rivals a compact disc player. Plus, you can tune in and record those new stereo TV broadcasts, even on your current TV.

Zenith’s new VCRs. It’s the sound and picture experience that practically turns your living room into a movie theater.

Zenith VHS Hi-Fi Stereo VCR (1985)


JVC HQ System VHS VCR (1985)

JVC just did something about the great image of VHS — they made it extraordinary

How? Introducing HQ (High Quality) System technologies. A new way of processing VHS signals with two noise reduction circuits and a higher white clip level.

The result of the HQ System is immediately clear. The picture is sharper. Colors are more natural. Video noise is virtually eliminated. And, if you record with a new HQ VHS recorder, your recording can be viewed on any existing VHS recorder. JVC ensures that complete compatibility is maintained.

The HR-D566 and HR-D565, JVC’s latest Hi-Fi VHS VCRs, are the first to incorporate the HQ System. Proof that HQ pictures are a visual equivalent to Hi-Fi VHS sound is now available at a JVC dealer near you. HQ System pictures make the VHS advantage clearer than ever before — its quality you’ll recognize on sight.

Shown: HR-D566U HQ Hi-Fi stereo videocassette recorder with MTS decoder

JVC HQ System VHS VCR (1985)


NEC VHS Hi-Fi VCR (1985)

The TV studio: where only the very best equipment is good enough. That’s why TV stations throughout the world turn to broadcast products from NEC — with technology so advanced it’s won two Emmy Awards.

Even if you’re not about to broadcast your tapes coast to coast, it’s comforting to know that NEC builds much of our pro technology into videocassette recorders for the home.

onsider the new N-961U VHS Hi-Fi VCR. NEC’s studio heritage is evident in the glitch-free images during still picture and slow motion. The seamless scene-to-scene transitions of Assembly Editing. The amazing sound of stereo TV reception and the studio-grade stereo recording of VHS Hi-Fi.

The wireless remote control even operates an NEC TV ReceiverMonitor. You see, building first-rate professional products is not enough for NEC. We feel obligated to take the world’s most advanced technology one step further. Into your home.

NEC VHS Hi-Fi VCR (1985)

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