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TiTle
                                                                               by Andrew Bowman
If you’re like most Americans, you have a VCR. Specifically you have a VHS format VCR and if you’re like me, a huge collection of pre-recorded movies and tapes of your favorite television shows. A problem the big networks have been facing will soon be yours. Videotape doesn’t last forever.

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Lessons From the Past
Ampex invented the first practical video tape recorder in 1956. Bing Crosby is said to have funded Ampex to push the technology forward so he didn’t have to do his show twice-- once live on the East coast and then again 3 hours later live for the west coast and so he didn’t have to record it on wax disc. You may think of videotape as cassettes but the first machines were reel to reel. A great many television shows were recorded live on tape so they only had to be performed once. Programs such as game shows certainly couldn’t have the contestants play again and big stars on variety shows like Ed Sullivan had busy schedules. 

Over time these reels of tape began to build up. Late innovations in tape began to take up less space. Machines got smaller. One-inch helical scan replaced two-inch quad. U-matic, sometimes called the grandfather of VHS, revolutionized news broadcasts with the ultra portability of a videotape cassette. The television networks recorded so much. Then they tossed it in the trash. It took up too much room. To make matters worse, what they saved fell apart.

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reel to reel player

". . . the first machines were reel to reel."

That’s why you won’t see a lot of classic television shows ever again. Though you’ve probably bought a DVD player you own a VHS machine and so have inherited both storage space problems and if it hasn’t happened already, tape decay. You can act and solve both problems at once. You stepped into the digital age when you bought a DVD player. The studios have too. When you see the best of Ed Sullivan or any old TV show advertised, you almost always hear the words “digitally remastered.”. New releases of old music also gets this moniker. Both industries have gone digital. So should you.

Tape Decay - Dust to Dust
Videotape, most simply described, is iron dust glued to plastic ribbon. When exposed to a magnetic field, parts of the iron or other material are partially magnetized. The magnetic patterns are used to encode information. Because the ribbon is magnetized to a small degree, sensitive electronics can read the changes in strength and then translate that back to sound and picture. The binders that hold the powder coating begin to lose its stickiness. The tape comes apart. Picture and sound become dust.

It’s not as if your videotapes turn to trash. It’s when. Just when videotape fails depends on the tape formulation and how it’s stored. Experts give the general number of six to 60 years, the latter only true if videotapes are stored in special climate controlled archival storerooms. Ten to twelve years is the 

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accepted average. VHS, however, has been around since 1977. That’s 26 years of video tapes though for most of us, and its only been ten to twelve years since the home VCR really took off and we started our collections. Some of your prize videos are on the edge of self-destruction. Fortunately the DVD player has come along to save us.

tape open

". . . iron dust glued to plastic ribbon."

Digitally Remastered - New Life 
The DVD player is the fastest selling consumer entertainment product on the planet, entering into millions of new homes every year in North America alone. DVD’s are smaller than VHS tapes and take up less room on your shelf. If properly handled they will still be around even when the format is long dead. 

dvd player

". . . the fastest selling consumer entertainment product on the planet . . ."

Turn Your Old Tapes Into Digital Video - Click Here Now!

Another device spreading rapidly to over half the households in the US and Canada is the home computer. Like the DVD player, it is a digital device. People are already using it to make copies of regular DVD’s but did you know you could use it to backup all your videotapes as well? It’s true. And if you have a computer and a DVD player you have almost everything you need to digitally re-master all your home movies. 

Unlike the first VCR’s, computers and DVD players do not come with built in video recording capabilities. The first home VCR’s cost over a thousand dollars and so did the first video capture devices for PC’s. Like everything else in the high-tech world, the price has come down. For under a hundred dollars you can own an add-on TV Capture card like the AverTV Desktop Personal Recorder or the ATI TV Wonder VE cards. 

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Expert Guides, the leader in proven, simple solutions for complex home-computing questions has written easy to use guides that anyone can use in creating backups of their own videotapes. Learn how to create copies of your old home movies and favorite features on inexpensive recordable CD’s that will play on nearly any DVD player. They can show you how to turn them into real DVD’s and even ultra-compact high quality DivX and Windows Media Video files which new generations of DVD players will also play.

tapes-vcr-pc

". . .digitally re-master all your home movies."

The future truly is digital. Home DVD recorder devices are already in stores but with price tags of $600 and up and a basic inability to record discs that will playback in most normal DVD players, home DVD recorders are a poor and expensive choice for archiving your tapes. Though immensely popular, the TiVO records video on a built in hard drive that is all but inaccessible to the most advanced digital video geeks. Further, TiVO gives you limited recording space with the inability to take the media with you or add more space. Computer TV capture devices like the ATI TV Wonder and AverMedia AverTV Stereo give you the flexibility you need.

 Click Here To Learn To Transfer Your Video Tapes to Digital Video

Not Just for VHS
In the past 30 years there have been a great many developments in video technology for the home user. Betamax format VCR’s came out two years before VHS and despite its higher picture quality they had vanished by the mid-80’s. 1978 marked the birth of Laserdisc-- virtually dead by the mid-90’s. JVC improved VHS to make the higher video and audio quality Super-VHS format but it never caught on. Camcorders became smaller with the invention of 8mm video tape and then the superior Hi-8 format. These formats all decay-- even Laserdisc, if handled too much. Expert Guides can show the owners of any of these formats how to use a TV Capture card to digitally archive these, preserving their content forever.

 

camera-tape-disc

"Camcorders became smaller with the invention of 8mm video tape. . ."

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