What Does VHS Stand For?.
Now that streaming services have become the standard way to consume entertainment, the days of physical media are long gone. Movie shelves have been replaced with shiny new streaming devices.
This is not a new phenomenon. Just as these devices replaced DVDs and Blu-Rays, DVDs replaced VHS cassettes. This home cinema format is so outdated that you may not even know or remember what the term VHS means. Or how VHS tapes came to be.
What does “VHS” mean?
VHS stands for Video Home System. The main advantage of the VHS cassette was that it allowed viewers to record broadcasts on these tapes at home. The format was released in the United States by JVC in 1977 and first released in Japan in 1976.
At the time, another home video format called Betamax, created by Sony was at the forefront of home video consumption. But VHS grew astronomically, and by 1980 the VHS format controlled over 60% of the North American home video market.
The disagreements between Betamax and VHS, which helped the latter to gain popularity, were the length of the recording, as well as the lower cost of VHS-based VCRs. This allowed consumers to record full-length films and more television episodes on one tape, which is very attractive compared to Betamax, which could only record up to an hour at a time.
How does a VHS tape work? , What Does VHS Stand For?
After JVC licensed the VHS format to several other companies, many of them started making VHS players. This is why you can find so many different models of VCR. Many of them have different functions depending on the brand and the time of release, but in general, they all work the same. So what is the technology behind VHS cassettes and VCRs that inevitably led to their dominance in the market?
The video will first be recorded on a tape 800 feet long and half an inch wide, wound on two reels inside a box. There are several rollers inside the cassette that move the videotape to the edge, which is covered by a spring-loaded door, so it cannot be damaged with regular handling.
When placed inside a VCR, the unit opens this door to use tape. It uses a motorized mechanism to move the tape over the playback head, using spiral scanning to read the contents of the tape and transmit signals to the TV. The TV then displays this information as video and audio.
Videotapes and VCRs have long been at the top of consumer preferences. This format lasted for over 20 years until in 1997 it was discontinued due to the spread of the DVD format.
Back off your VHS tape
In June 2003, DVD rentals in the United States surpassed the number of VHS rentals by 900,000 for the first time. Since then, the popularity of the VHS format has steadily declined.
Soon after, many retailers stopped selling VCRs. It was only a matter of time before only DVD players and DVD movies could be found on store shelves. This included home video rental stores such as Blockbuster, now a relic of the past.
The DVD-VHS battle resulted in several combo video players that could support both formats. Even though VHS lost revenue in the mid-2000s, over 94 million Americans still owned some kind of VHS player. However, gradually DVD became the preferred format, as did its competitor Blu-Ray.
Then, as streaming services made watching movies and TV shows even easier and more accessible, VHS pushed out even more. The same thing happened with DVDs, and video rental stores began to go bust. Physical media were no longer preferred.
Differences between VHS and Modern Formats
Should you own VHS tapes? It depends on what you’re looking for in entertainment.
The most obvious difference between VHS and digital is quality. You can easily get the best video quality on DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming devices than you could ever squeeze out of VHS. Although for some, the noisy and grainy picture created by the format has a certain nostalgic charm.
You can, of course, argue about the cheapness of VHS these days. Because it’s so outdated, people get rid of their VCRs for almost no cost, and VHS tapes can be found for pennies or completely free.
For video enthusiasts, VHS cassettes are a near-free goldmine of films, shows, and programs, especially those little-known ones that have never been digitized. And, unlike streaming services that review their titles every few weeks, you’ll always have your favorites when you need them.
VHS and later
You may have completely forgotten about videotapes and weekend trips to the video store, where people of all ages flocked. At the time, you had to choose one or two films to rent or buy because that was the most affordable option.
Today we are spoiled for choice: hundreds of items are available at our fingertips for a small monthly fee. Now that the average American has a subscription to at least three different streaming services and streams about eight hours of content daily, there are tons of devices to choose from, offering hundreds of streaming platforms. It can seem overwhelming at times.
So the next time you’re unsuccessfully flipping through Netflix or Hulu trying to find something to watch, it might be helpful to remember the humble beginnings of home video as we know it.