I was digging around in my closet trying to get out the Window Air Conditioner and lo and behold three of these fell out after being buried for who knows how long. Remember VHS?
It got me thinking, VHS tapes are a big thing from my generation. They started in the 70’s but it wasn’t until the 80’s that VHS technology became a big thing. My original VCR was a 1985 Panasonic VCR that cost my parents a few hundred bucks. It came with a wired remote control, and buttons so complex my little 5-year-old brain just new start, stop, forward, and back. I didn’t know how to adjust it or try to program it to record. But that thing lasted well into the year 2000 and by then I was in college.
Back before there were DVD and Blu- Rays and digital technology (let alone internet streaming) VHS tech was THE thing and as a kid, I was right into it. With that very VCR, I watched a bundle of tapes, most of which were tapes that we were renting (and had to take back in a few days) and even a few that were store bought. My first store bought professional VHS tape was of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.
TV spot for the March 7, 1986 reissue of Disney’s 1959 animated classic “Sleeping Beauty”
The big though was home recording. That was the trick of VHS was that you could tape stuff off the TV at home. Unlike Betamax (VHS’s competition for a number of years) you could get about 6 hours of recording on a VHS tape without messing with it (it grew in later days). My folks were big into The Cosby Show at the time so they would record those episodes. Meanwhile, I was more a video rental type of kid.
That is another part of the time you don’t see much anymore either. Back when VHS was king, there used to be video rental places all around. Where I was, the big names were Home Vision Video and Sounds Easy Video. Having those two companies competing against each other kept prices low and made renting tapes fun. When I became a wrestling fan, those were the places to go to see old videos you had only heard about and the newest releases that were being advertised on TV at the time.
90’s WWF Commercials
Eventually, we replaced that old Panasonic and I got my own VCR. I don’t even remember the brand but it was a LOT easier to program and tape with. That’s when my collection of VHS tapes really grew. Most of the time it was taping Monday Night Wrestling but there was a lot more that made it to tape during those years as well. Specials, Documentaries, Movies, Cartoons, Anime, and a whole lot more. It wasn’t until sometime in the 2000’s and working for K-mart at the time that I actually looked and saw what I had. I then bought a combination unit and converted a lot of that into DVDs.
Nowadays in 2018, it’s a sign of a bygone era. I’ve read that the last of VHS technology was halted in China in 2016. People have also long since moved on. The old stores merged, rebranded, and mostly went out of business. There are DVDs and Blu Ray discs players, and digital streaming technology to watch most everything on the internet or streaming. The old tapes are long gone from store shelves, let along the tech to actually play or record with them.
Oddly though, I still have two VHS players plugged in right now. One is the aforementioned Combo unit that I still use, although it’s mostly just a player now. The other is my current replacement for that original VCR. I don’t record much with it, although it can still do that, it acts mostly as a base to plug things in. A habit that started with recording Monday night Wrestling came to an end, taping Friday Night Japanese Wrestling as part of a job I had.
It may be a sign of a bygone era and a time before now that doesn’t exist anymore. But it’s no joke either. A lot of us grew up with a VCR and those VHS tapes. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to them. But even in today’s world, they do bring back of a lot of memories.
From 1985, this great ad has Vincent Price bigging up Polaroid videos because they clean your head!
Especially when we see the commercials on Youtube.