Below is a timeline for all notable events pertaining to videocassette technology (not including distribution, with the exception of firsts and lasts). 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.
April, 1981 (Back Stage, 1981/04/24, p. 1)
Technicolor launches the first portable TV and VCR unit in one. Its small and compact (for its time), only weighing approximately 20 lbs. The only catch to the device is that it uses Technicolor’s own 1/4″ videocassette format, the compact video cassette (or CVC). The format is unpopular and of poor quality.
April, 1984 (upi.com/Archives/1984/01/04/Eastman-Kodak-Co-Wednesday-entered-the-home-video-war/1074442040400)
Kodak launches the first 8mm video system, sold initially as a camcorder format. The smaller tape format promises the same quality as 1/2″ tape. Also referred to as “Video 8.”
April, 1987 (Billboard, 1987/11/07, p. 58)
JVC introduces their first S-VHS (Super-VHS) VCR to the Japanese market, and then to the American market several months later in July for $1300. The new format offers 400 lines of resolution in comparison to standard VHS’s 240.
January, 1988 (Billboard, 1988/01/13, p.33)
After a fierce 10-year format war between Sony’s Betamax and JVC’s VHS, Sony caves and reveals they would be adding VHS VCRs to their product line. They’re adamant that they’re not phasing out Betamax.
February, 1988 (Billboard, 1988/02/13, p. 4)
Super Source Video releases the first two prerecorded S-Video releases. They are for the special interest titles, Impact Zone ($54.95) and River Song ($44.94). Up until 1991, they would release up to 38 titles on the format from various studios, including Paramount, New Line Cinema and Hemdale Home Video. Among these included Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1990), Top Gun (1986) and The Terminator (1984).
June 8th, 1998 (Billboard, 1998/06/13, p. 79)
DIVX discs are launched as an alternative to traditional rental systems. A DIVX disc could be purchased for less than $5 (average price of a rental). Upon playing the disc, he or she would have a 48 hour window to watch the program. They could then extend this viewing period for an additional fee (which required the DIVX player to be connected to the internet via a telephone line). The format was discontinued on June 16th, 1999.
January, 2002 (Sound & Vision, 2002/01, p. 24)
The first D-VHS VCR is released in the US for $2000. Although the format had been in use since 1999 for data storage, the new machine repackages the technology for the purpose of recording HDTV. Later that year, Hollywood films are released on the format under the “D-Theater” trademark. These require a special D-VHS player equipped to play “D-Theater” movies. They provide 1080i resolution.
August 27th, 2002 (Toronto Star, 2002/08/28, p. C04)
After 27 years, Sony decides to discontinue the manufacture of Betamax players to focus its efforts on DVD. It is reported that they sold 18 million Betamax VCRs during its run.
March, 2016 https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34776424
In November of 2015, Sony announced through its website that they would no longer be selling Betamax videocassettes starting March of the following year.
July, 2016 https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a21956/the-last-vcr/
Funai Electric announces that it would be manufacturing its very last VHS VCR this month.