Monday, April 7, 2008

Video Cassette Recording
This article is about the VCR ('Video Cassette Recording') videocassette format from Philips. This should not be confused with the later (and incompatible) VCC format ('Video Compact Cassette', more commonly known as Video 2000). For the generic article covering all videocassette recorders (VCRs), see Videocassette recorder.
Video Cassette Recording (VCR) was an early domestic video format designed by Philips. It was the first successful home videocassette recorder system. Later variants included the VCR-LP and Super Video (SVR) formats.
The VCR format was introduced in 1972, just after the Sony U-matic format in 1971. Although at first glance the two might appear to have been competing formats, they were aimed at very different markets. U-matic was introduced as a professional format, whilst VCR was targeted particularly at educational but also domestic users.
Home video systems had previously been available, but they were open reel systems (most notably made by Sony) and were expensive to both buy and operate. They were also unreliable and often only recorded in black and white. The VCR system was easy to use and recorded in colour but was still expensive: the N1500 recorder cost nearly £600 in the United Kingdom when it was introduced in 1972, the equivalent of more than £4500 today.
The VCR format used large square cassettes with 2 co-axial reels, one on top of the other, containing half inch wide chrome dioxide magnetic tape. Three playing times were available: 30, 45 and 60 minutes. The 60-minute cassettes proved very unreliable, suffering numerous snags and breakages due to the very thin tape. The mechanically complicated recorders themselves also proved somewhat unreliable. One particularly common failing occurred should tape slack develop within the cassette; the tape from the top (takeup) spool may droop into the path of the bottom (supply) spool and become entangled in it if rewind was selected. The cassette would then completely jam and require dismantling to clear the problem, and the tape would then be creased and damaged.
The system predated the development of the slant azimuth technique to prevent crosstalk between adjacent video tracks, so had to use an unrecorded guard band between tracks. This required the system to run at a high tape speed of around 11.5 inches per second.
Despite its limitations, the Philips VCR system was groundbreaking and brought together many advances in video recording technology to produce the first truly practical home video cassette system.

Video Cassette Recording Model Numbers
In the late 1970s, the VCR formats were superseded altogether by Video 2000 (also known as 'Video Compact Cassette' or VCC). Due to the similar initialisms, and the fact that both were designed by Philips, the 'VCC' and 'VCR' formats are often confused. However, the two systems are incompatible, and there are significant differences between them. Some Video 2000 machines carry the same "VCR" logo as N1500 and N1700 machines, adding further to this confusion.

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