Today in 1970: Edmonton's First Home VTR

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Today in 1970: Edmonton's First Home VTR

Postby jon » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:07 pm

Oct. 21, 1970: First home video tape recorder tested in city
By Chris Zdeb, Edmonton Journal
October 21, 2014


EDMONTON - Almost 35 years ago, the home video tape recorder was the “it” technology everyone salivated over, like the way the iPhone 6 was recently anticipated.

So how lucky was Edmonton to be selected the western Canadian test market for the first consumer video tape recorders?

“Until now, video tape recorders have been the dream of the wealthy few,” said John Nikel, president of National Music Ltd., as he unveiled the special equipment.

The units were to be sold for a special introductory offer of $599, compared to several thousand dollars for commercial and education TV video recorders. The compact portable recorder used half-inch tape that operated at less than eight inches per second, which meant it used less tape than industrial models. It weighed only 26 pounds, Nikel said.

And it was so easy to operate, “my son has no trouble with it at all,” he added.

A demonstration of the Philips LDL 1000 recorder, which included an adapter unit to plug into the television set, was held over three days at National Music Ltd. on 142nd Street and Stony Plain Road.

The recorders, which came with 38-minute tapes, were manufactured by Philips in Holland. They had been available in Europe for about 18 months, but had yet to be offered in North America.

The unit could record anything on television for later replay, Heffron said. Only black-and-white tapes were currently offered and no pre-recorded tapes were available.

There was, however, a mini camera available on a lease basis for enthusiasts who wished to make their own TV movies.

The big development would come with the arrival of cassette video recorders in 1971 or 1972, he said. Philips was working with Sony and Panasonic to turn out cassettes capable of recording and playing both black-and-white and colour programs. For those, he said, pre-recorded tapes would probably be available.

It would be the late 1970s and early 1980s before videocassette recorders (VCRs) became widely available. They dominated the market through the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in the VHS-Betamax format war, which ended with Betamax being kicked to the curb.

By the late 1990s, the digital versatile disc (DVD) player had become all the rage.

The first personal video recorder (PVR) that had the ability to pause real-time television programs and tapelessly record almost 30 hours of standard definition television programming launched in 2001.

With barely half of Albertans recycling their electronic waste, there’s probably a collection of these recorders gathering dust in basements somewhere.
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