The Introduction of the VCR

Television was (and is) a transformative technology.

It transformed how we processed information and received entertainment. It transformed how we interacted with our world. It transformed education, religion and government. And it introduced other transformative technologies, from the remote control to “smart” television. From rabbit ears to cable to satellite to streaming, television has reimagined our world.

And yet few TV technologies were more transformative than the video cassette recorder (VCR). The ability to time-shift (record and watch at a different time) television broadcasts personalized the viewing experience. Suddenly television was democratized. A VCR changed how “we the people” watched television. We were no longer slaves to the TV Guide and network programming schedules. We could watch television on our terms.

Before the VCR, television was a live event. You gathered with family and friends to watch the show. The family room transformed into the new cultural theater. The VCR and later DVR (digital video recording) changed how (and when) it all happened. Today, streaming allows viewers to slate, schedule and save entire seasons in the “cloud.” No more boxes of plastic and tape. No more lost episodes due to a VCR eating the tape. No more recording a baseball game over a priceless family video (been there, done that!).

And it all started on this date (June 7) in 1965 thanks to Sony.

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