Saturday, June 5, 2010

It’s always 12:00

When I first entered college one of the guys down the hall brought a VCR with him. His parents owned a video store and he got one of the old rental units with him. This was early on in the technology and it was a pretty amazing thing to have in the dorm room.

People seem to have forgotten how much “shock and awe” some of the early consumer electronics had when this stuff first came out. I was so amazed by this thing that I had to have one. At the time the hottest thing was being able to freeze the picture and advance the movie one frame at a time. Advancing a frame at a time was a valuable feature for drunken college students to settle arguments or catch a peek at a nipple or two.

I saved money all summer to be able to buy a 4 head Sony VHS machine that could freeze picture without a static line on the screen (a technological breakthrough at the time) and that would advance 1 frame, 5 frames or 16 frames at the time. This was a state of the art hot rod machine at the time and set me back $400 in the mid 80s. It had all sorts of tracking control and tape speed adjustments that towards the end of VCRs were completely eliminated.

This machine was incredibly well built and I got about 10 years of service out of it. I can’t think of any consumer electronics around today that have that sort of longevity to them.

This VCR carried me through college, enduring hundreds of showings of Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, Pink Floyd The Wall and the original Terminator movie. Back then it was a bit more of an event to rent a flick and watch is as opposed to today’s ability to watch movies on your phone or anywhere with a few clicks.

Plus, I miss the soft greenish blue flashes of light from the machine that always thinks it’s midnight.

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