Friday, November 16, 2007

Goodbye VCR!

Well, the end is nigh...after a major battle with Philips and Sony Betamax, the VHS Video Recorder has finally reached the end of the road. Digital technology has taken over! I remember it well, the Ferguson Video Star top loader with its piano key buttons! A wonderful piece of engineering with a hint of digital control technology. I know this superb machine inside - out... Servos, Digital - to - Analogue convertors, chips, chips and more chips! I've lost count of the number of Video Heads i've cleaned with a chamois leather and isopropil alcohol. Video Heads were expensive, so you tried everything before replacing it. (remember the 'put it on pause for two minutes to unblock the head' then charge the customer £30 for the repair?)
When I went to University training as a teacher, one of my placements was at Bolton College where I taught students about the Video Star!

Philips and Grundig were non-starters, mechanically too complex, but electronically brilliant. They both had servos that physically moved the head position to track the signal from the tape. The BetaMax had a more simple mechanical system, but complex electronic system, playback quality was good, tapes smaller. I must admit I didn't really like BetaMax, it was difficult to find faults.

"Now VHS was...just right!" (said Daddy Bear!) A good combination of both digital and analogue technology for the time and a straight forward mechanical system. Easy to fault find and cheap to replace parts.

I bought my first VCR from Hitchins, my Mum got it for £80, A brand new Hitachi with big buttons on the front! A super machine that lasted for years!

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