It was September, 1976.
Gerald Ford was in the White House. Watergate was a recent
memory. TV had monaural sound. Digital
watches and LCD displays hadn't been invented yet. No
personal computers...no Internet...no cell phones. And the home video market
consisted of .....two Sony Betamaxes! Luckily, a gentleman from Tallahassee,
Florida, decided to try to pull together the first owners of the revolutionary
"Betamax," and publish a subscription-only
mimeographed newsletter called THE VIDEOPHILE'S NEWSLETTER...the VERY FIRST
video magazine!!! TVN ran from 1976 to 1981, changing its name
to simply THE VIDEOPHILE in the early 80s. I have reprinted a few pages from
selected issues below for
your enjoyment and education. You will be amused by what you
read, because all these articles, questions/answers, ads, etc., were
from the very DAWN of the home video revolution, which obviously has changed and
evolved drastically since the mid 1970s!!
As you will see, Jim was VERY big on trading tapes and bringing early
collectors together...see notes below. Jim heavily advocated this and laid
down his ideas and guidelines. Jim also kept his readers abreast
of new developments, such as the "new" videodisc, projection
TV, and satellite systems, etc, as well as availability of blank and
pre-recorded tapes, lowest prices on Beta VCRs, and so forth.
You must remember
that, when these issues were published...
a world without VHS, without audio CDs, without DVDs or DV tape, and
without video stores! That was the state of the electronics
industry when this magazine was first published! Also, the only
home video format that was around was Betamax, and it had been around
for barely a year at this time! The only 2 models that were
available were the LV-1901 console and the SL-7200, and they both only
recorded on one-hour tapes! There was no Beta Hi-Fi audio,
no SuperBeta, no BII or BIII speed, no wireless remotes, and no BetaScan
(picture search). Imagine!!!
*When you could obtain blank Betamax tapes, they were $16.95 for
one-hour tapes and $12.95 for half-hour tapes. Incredible!! Blank
tapes sold very fast in the early days, and had to be back-ordered quite
*There were NO pre-recorded movies available yet, and no video stores to
rent them! The only way to obtain programming, and to build a library
(which was everyone's goal in the beginning), was to record your own
material off TV, or trade tapes with others.
*A very small percentage of Americans had cable TV in those days, and virtually
no one except the very wealthy had a satellite dish. DSS was still
*Even though the pre-recorded video industry had not been born yet, the
original purpose of these home VCRs was to timer-tape and
time-shift TV shows! No one could have foreseen that VCRs
would become simply movie playback machines over the years, and their ability
to timer-tape shows was almost forgotten!
As for Jim Lowe,
he is still alive and well and in Florida, and
although he is not involved in home video like he used to be, he is active on the Internet.
I have reprinted the earliest issues in their entirety, since,
when they were published, the hobby was absolutely in its infancy....and I
felt that it would be fascinating reading. Enjoy your