April 14th, 2011

Gaslight: Today in Media History, Happy 55th to the first Video Tape Recorder!

Presenting the Ampex VRX-1000, First Commercial Video Tape Recorder

April 14, 1956: A small California company named Ampex debuts the first commercial tape recorder. This was a big deal for television, because up until this time, TV shows were taped using a modified film camera pointed at a television monitor. The picture was not very good, and the film had to be developed, which took precious time in the world of television broadcasting where fast production turnaround times are key. With the new machine, shows could be more easily videotaped and played back, and then replayed for other time zones. The first Ampex machine was giant and klunky, but it worked, and formed the base for improvements and modifications which led to better picture quality, increased efficiency…and endless summers of reruns.

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