|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
After so many years of talk about the ability of the average person to record a television show, the VCR is now a reality. But there's so much more - record one show while watching another! Produce your own home sound movies! You can even use it to monitor the baby's room! And it's BETA, so you know it will never go out of style.
I wonder if, back in 1977, people had any idea how this would revolutionize the television experience? Not the VCR itself, as anyone who ever walked into someone's home and saw the blinking clock can attest. No, the VCR was just a waystation, the first, on a journey that would include the DVD player, the DVR (with the ability to pause and replay live television), watching TV on your computer, watching TV on your phone, going from renting a VHS cassette to streaming online video, and the list goes on. Perhaps its most significant impact was what it did to viewing habits: thanks to the VCR and its successors, we no longer have shared experiences; we don't watch shows at the same time, we binge watch entire seasons at one sitting - we have, in fact, become very much a separated people.
All this is true, and yet I can't tell you how grateful I am for this technology. (Even though I wrote an entire story trying to explain it.) I'm old enough to remember before VCRs even existed, and the idea you could watch a program you'd missed, or watch it over again - well, there are no words.
Considering how much a top-of-the-line blu-ray player costs today, considering how much a DVR cost as recently as a few years ago, a thousand dollars for a pioneer machine like this, one that even seems a bit crude, makes you laugh. And yet, if people back then had known the revolution it would have spawn, things they couldn't even imagine - well, they probably would have considered it cheap at double the price.