August 8, 2016 |
News of the very last VHS VCR rolling off the Funai Electronics assembly line in Japan provoked headlines and comedy show gags last week - most with a derisive "Who remembers them?" slant. But VHS (and its longtime rival Betamax) were a really big deal - revolutionizing industries, user habits, and our comfort with technology. The VCR deserved a more respectful assessment, worthy of its significant place in viewing history. My suggestions follow. The great time machine story.
April 25, 2014 |
THE COMING of free agency was the single most important event in the lives of professional athletes because it gave them a vehicle to play where they wanted and to maximize their salaries. The invention of the VCR, and its successors, was the most significant change for the coaching profession because it turned every game and every player into a specimen that could be studied and dissected. For the fan, though, the milestone was when high-definition television became available.
January 29, 2013
WHEN I HEARD that Sally Starr had died, I thought of my father, Phil, himself gone 14 years next month. I thought of his reaction when, in the summer of 1984, I announced that I was hoping to bring "Our Gal Sal" - who hadn't been heard from for 12 years - back to Philly as a way to publicize the RV Roundup, a recreational-vehicle exhibition scheduled for the old Civic Center that September. I was public-relations director for a Center City ad agency whose clients included the Roundup.
October 5, 2005 |
In the 1950s, a New York sportswriter named Jimmy Cannon produced, every few weeks or so, a column that began, "Nobody asked me, but . . . . " He'd delight readers with 20 or so nuggets - mostly his opinion on sports but occasionally on other topics as well. So, with respect and reverence to the memory of Jimmy Cannon, nobody asked me, but . . . In the interest of truth, shouldn't all those "reality shows" on television be renamed "alleged reality shows"? Why can't I pay attention to what a television newscaster is saying while the ticker crawls across the bottom of the screen?
May 21, 2003 |
When did watching television get to be so difficult? Where once there was just a TV set, now we also have VCRs, cable boxes, DVD players, digital video recorders, high-definition signal converters, and remote controls, all fighting for the same space across from the living-room couch. A Horsham-based division of electronics giant Motorola Inc. is working to make it simple again. Motorola Broadband Communications Sector, the nation's largest supplier of cable set-top boxes, says it will begin in-home trials this summer of a souped-up box that receives high-definition channel feeds, processes video-on-demand requests, and digitally records programs on the fly ? la the increasingly popular TiVo.
March 21, 2003 |
Fueled by robust rentals for the suspense-thriller "The Ring," DVD rental revenues surpassed VHS rental revenues in a single week for the first time ever, according to statistics released by the Video Dealers Software Association. The gap between DVD and VHS rentals has been closing for several months, but it wasn't until the week ending March 16 that revenues for the newer format finally edged ahead by reaching $80 million in one week versus $78 million for VHS. DVD players are now in more than 40 million households nationwide, and shipments of DVD titles hit 685 million units last year, a leap from 5.5 million units just six years ago.
June 7, 2002
IT'S THE stupidity, Part IV . . . Remember, back before digitalization, when even refugees from the 20th century could figure out how to tape their soaps? So the cable guy is halfway out the door when you manage to stop him and ask, "How do you use this thing?" He says that Channel 901 explains it all, and vanishes. You watch the program on Channel 901 about eight times, but at no time does the perky lady say anything resembling, "If you want to tape a program to watch later, this is what you do. " A flush triggered by helpless frustration starts to climb the back of your neck.
October 6, 2000 |
THE GIZMO: Samsung VR400G/ VR400P videocassette recorder, $99.95 list, Samsung Electronics America Inc., 105 Challenger Road, Ridgefield Park, N.J. 07660-0511. Telephone: 800-SAMSUNG. WHY WE CARE: Bored with black-box electronics that all look and act the same? Take a gander at the Samsung VR400 - a four-head VCR that comes in a curvaceous translucent purple or teal green cabinet dressed up with spiffy silver accents. Gaze down on this VCR from above, and you can see the mechanics of the show, watch the take-up reels wrapping the videotape around the spinning video head drum.
September 3, 1999 |
The Gizmo: Panasonic PV-HD 1000 HD-Compatible Digital VCR. $999.95. Info: 800-211-PANA or online at www.panasonic.com Why we care: For the sake of higher quality and new applications, the whole world of home electronics is going digital. The next big wave is expected to be over-the-air digitally broadcast TV, though it's gotten off to a much slower start. Sky-high prices for the first-generation digital sets haven't helped, while true high-definition programming available from CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and Fox has been severely limited.
March 18, 1999 |
In a speech technology researcher's vision of the future, your voice could run just about anything. No computer keyboard, no remote controls, and no secretary to screen your calls. You could program your VCR without touching buttons. You could pick up the phone and say "Call Mom" without punching in 11 digits. You could ask your computerized personal assistant to read your e-mails and schedule your appointments. And, like Capt. Picard on Star Trek, you could command: "Computer, find that file.