1963: Videotape recorder

     Television has finally completed its invasion of the American home. It will now be possible to record the family's very own Golden Treasury of Dr. Kildare to keep forever. The Cinerama-Telcan does the trick. It is a videotape recorder no bigger than a bread box. Wired into a home TV set, it can record programs off the air as they are being watched. Then, with a flick of the switch, Telcan can play them back immediately or at any future time as desired. The machine can be halted during commercials, or they can be snipped out later. The neatest part of the trick is the price: under $300. The least expensive "home" TV recorder previously available is an Ampex portable unit that turns out tapes of broadcast quality but costs $11,900.
     Telcan has a number of other tricks up its transistorized sleeve. With the addition of a tiny TV camera (about $150), Telcan can turn the living room into a studio so that shots of Sister tap dancing in her new stretch pants, Uncle Al wearing the lamp shade at the party, or Dad doing his R.C.A.F. exercises can be immortalized on tape for instant see-back on the family TV set, like Polaroid movies.
     Telcan (the name alludes to canned TV) was developed by a pair of British inventors. It was demonstrated in London last summer. A television tape of its debut was run soon afterward on NBC's Today show, where it caught the eye of Cinerama Inc. President Nicolas Reisini. Reisini, a man of wide-screen vision, was looking around for a new product to highlight Cinerama's plans for diversification, and he hopped a plane for London that very day and started negotiations for world rights to Telcan.
     Telcan is as simple to operate as any other tape recorder, uses standard one fourth-inch triple-play recording tape on oversized reels. Although the tape speed is necessarily fast—120 in. per second as compared with 7½ IPS or audio recorders—Telcan records hall track so that 44 minutes of programming can be recorded on a single reel. By means of a timing device, Telcan can record television programs when nobody is home, making it possible for a viewer to run off a show exactly when he wants to see it. In fact, the day may come when plays, concerts or operas are video-taped by professional companies and sold to the home market the way phonograph records are.
     -- Time magazine, December 20, 1963
     -- Image from Terra Media (site linked below)
* Entry from BBC: @
* Entry from The Virtual Museum of Vintage VCRs: @
* "See Home Playback At Price Under $300" (Billboard magazine, December 28, 1963): @
* "Home TV Tape -- 1964 Big Item" (Billboard, January 11, 1964): @
* "Home Video Tape Being Tested" (Billboard, February 22, 1964): @
* "Watch Your Favorite TV Show ANY Time" (Popular Science, June 1964): @
* "The quest for home video" (from Terra Media): @ 

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