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14-04-1956

First videotape recorder launched

Be Kind Rewind

As defunct audio-visual formats go, videotape is one of the most beloved. I mean, who doesn’t miss programming your timer to record a late night repeat of Eurotrash while you’re out at fitness? Or popping to The Video Hut and trying to rent First Blood even though the man behind the counter doesn’t think you’re 15? Videos were fun, cheap and HANDY. You try recording the latest Emmerdale on your fancy high density optical Blu-Ray disc.

You see, you can’t.It was on this day in 1956 that the Ampex corporation demonstrated the first commercial videotape recorder to a group of journalists who, we assume, were soon hanging their jaws open and rubbing their eyes in complete disbelief. At the time, one reel of tape could record one hour of material, with a tape costing $300 a pop. Or about 3K in today money. It took a few more years before VCRs and cheap tape were available for all. Just in time for DVDs to make them completely obsolete.