It should be noted that this website uses the term, “Home Video,” in two different ways. Firstly, it uses it as an umbrella term for the viewing of movies in the home, physical or otherwise. Secondly, its also the label given to the era in time where movies are being released on physical video formats. By default, the timeline below displays all events (with more always being added). Because the timeline has many events, use the buttons below to narrow down your interests.
November 11th, 1951
Collaborating at the behest of Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby Enterprises and Ampex demonstrate the first video tape recorder. Although the results are poor on this early prototype, it’s proof of concept.
The first practical VTR is demonstrated and sold at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters convention. Ampex received 75 orders for the VTR during the event, earning the company around $4 million, with each unit costing around $50,000.
David Paul Gregg invents an optical disk for recording video while working at the electronics engineering company, Westrex (a subsidiary of Western Electric). He patents his designs in 1961 and 1969.
June 24th, 1963
The Nottingham Electronic Valve Company (comprised of inventors Norman Rutherford and Michael Turner) demonstrates the first European consumer-use reel-to-reel video recorder, developed in the UK. Was launched to the public later that year.
Ampex demonstrates the Signature V at the High Fidelity Music Show. It is the first American consumer-use videotape recorder. It is offered to the public later that year in Nieman-Marcus’ annual Christmas Book at a cost of $30,000. It is a TV, reel-to-reel video and audio recorder, record player, radio and camera unit all in one.
RCA begins research and development on a videodisc (later to become CED).
Sony introduces the CV-2000, the first practical consumer use reel-to-reel video recorder. Priced at $695, it uses 1/2″ tape and helical scanning.
After having purchased optical disc patents from David Paul Greg, MCA begins development on a videodisc format (later to become laserdisc).
Tape duplicator, Andre Blay, splits with his partner to create his own company, Magnetic Video. Unlike his previous company, this new one would specialize not only in audio, but video as well. It would later become the first videocassette distributor to release Hollywood films.
August 27th, 1968
CBS reveals they’ve been working on a method to convert a film into electronic signals to be viewed on a television. The device is called “Electronic Video Recording,” or EVR for short.
The EVR (Electronic Video Recording) system is launched with an $800 price tag. The device converts the frames of a specially made cartridge of film into electronic signals which could then be viewed on a television. Likely due to is inability to record and its high price tag, production ends in 1975.
September 30th, 1969
RCA first demonstrates the “Selectavision.” The system is a playback only device, using cartridges that contain “holotape.” It never makes it to market, but the Selectavision trademark is used for later devices.
Sony presents the very first videocassette prototype. Initially called “Videocassette,” it would later be given the name, U-matic due to the path the 3/4″ tape takes inside the machine.
At the 2nd annual International Music Industry Conference held in Spain, Philips presents their entry into the videocassette race, calling it the machine, VCR (Videocassette Recording). This abbreviation would stick for all subsequent home video recorders.
At a Berlin conference, Teldec and Telefunken performed the first industry demonstration of a consumer videodisc. Similar to what RCA is developing, Teldec’s was a paper-thin foil disc that could hold only several minutes. Expected to launch in 1972, it doesn’t actually make it to market until 1975.
June 28th, 1970 (Variety, 1970/05/27, p. 27)
Frank Stanton (of Cartridge Television Inc, a subsidiary of Avco) demonstrates his Cartrivision system at the Consumer Electronics Show. This system uses cartridges of video tape to playback prerecorded media.
April 19th - 23rd, 1971
The event, called “The First International Cartridge TV, Videocassette, and Videodisc Conference,” is held in Cannes, France and is a collaboration between Billboard and VIDCA. Panelists from companies all over the world discuss such topics as development, programming and standardization.
Computer Cinema Inc. begins testing a closed-circuit pay-per-view system at the Gateway Downtowner Motor Inn in Newark, New Jersey using various video systems. This is the public’s first taste of watching a full-length movie of their choice in a private, domestic-like setting.
Launch of the first videocassette player. Originally intended for the consumer market, but are mainly used commercially because of its high cost. Because this first version did not have recording capabilities, it’s technically not a VCR.
Philips launches their VCR N1500 for $600, the first consumer-friendly VCR to make it to the market. It has the ability to not only playback, but also record. Subsequent models were later made up through the late 1970s but are eventually dominated by superior formats. Prereocords were made available towards the end of the formats life.