Video Cassette Recorder

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What Does Video Cassette Recorder Mean?

A video cassette recorder (VCR) is an electromechanical device which records and plays back analog audio/video data which has been recorded natively from broadcast television or from other sources on a removable magnetic cassette tape. It revolutionized the movie and television industry by allowing people to watch TV shows and movies on their own schedules. The VCR can record a TV broadcast to be played back at another time, making it very convenient for a working person to watch shows at another time; a practice known as timeshifting.

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Techopedia Explains Video Cassette Recorder

The video cassette recorder evolved with the history of videotape recording in general, as it is not actually tied to a specific videotape format such as VHS and Betamax. The world’s first commercially successful VCR was introduced by Ampex as the Ampex VRX-1000 in 1956, which made use two-inch tapes, and the Quadruplex videotape professional broadcast standard format. The first home VCR was called the Telcan and was produced in 1963 by the UK Nottingham Electric Valve Company for £60, which today is roughlyequivalent to $1500.

The VCR started gaining mass market success in 1975 because of the emergence of the VHS and Betamax formats, which gave the common consumer more affordable access to magnetic videotape media. It was also due to the fact that six major firms were actively developing VCRs, namely JVC, Ampex, RCA, Matsushita/Panasonic, Toshiba and Sony. The competition meant that prices went down quickly, and by the end of the 80s well over half of homes in the US and Britain had a VCR.

Even with the new technologies emerging such as the Laserdisc and Video CD in the 90s, VCRs still thrived commercially. It was not until the introduction of the Digital Video Disc or DVD that VCR popularity began to decline. DVD was the first universally successful optical medium for playback and pre-recorded videos. As it gained popularity, pricey DVD recorders and other digital video recorders dropped in price, which made VCR sales decline further.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.