The End of the VCR
It’s been all over the news that the last manufacturer of the VCR is shutting the line down. I remember when the VCR first came out.
At the time, Star Trek was running back to back with Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as part of a Sci-Fi afternoon. One day, the station pulled Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and in the fandom crowd, we found that it had pretty much disappeared.
We couldn’t rewatch favorite episodes or ones that we had never seen. Many of us hadn’t seen the first season at all because it was in black and white, and some of the stations only showed the color three seasons.
Some of the fans were able to tape a handful of episodes, and these grainy, poor quality tapes made the rounds. If we found a fan with another episode we didn’t have (there were 110, so lots of room for this), we were all eagerly for copies.
There were still some episodes I had never seen from the first season.
Finally, after about 10 years, Columbia House came out with the series on video. It was pretty expensive and subscription based, so you couldn’t buy anything to your budget. Like grab a tape with episodes I hadn’t seen, and then pick up ones I had later, when I could afford it.
The show finally resurfaced on Sci-Fi, when it still focused on science fiction, and they showed all the episodes from the beginning to end. And it was eventually released on DVD.
By then, I’d evolved so much as a writer that the flaws of the show really stood out. I liked the actors, liked the special effects, but there were problems with the stories. And the producer tended to do things because he though the audience would never notice, so I was rewinding to see if yes, the actor in the later scene had actually already been killed by a monster.
It’s still amazing though how much VCRs and the video tape changed how we watch TV and films.