The VCR: The DVD Player of the Early 1980’s Essay

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The VCR: The DVD Player of the Early 1980’s

The rate at which technology advances, even by today’s standards, continues to amaze and astonish people. Even the simplest of daily tasks are influenced and molded by the increasingly original inventions that continue to explode into the public’s eye. One’s everyday life is constantly updated, reinvented, and (if you will) reprogrammed in order to adapt to the new ways of technology. Yet this phenomenon is not unique to this decade alone. As modern and as fast-paced as things may seem now, people in 1984 were going through very similar circumstances. The invention of the VCR was quickly becoming an obviously important product, while advertisers, media executives, and the average consumer
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“Rentals, driven by popular theatrical releases, accounted for 80% of the home video market…while sales, also dominated by popular films, such as Paramount’s ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ accounted for the remaining 20%” (Broadcasting 43). With the increase in demand for VCR’s, the price for consumers has gone down significantly. While the average price of a VCR was $1,200 in 1978, it dropped to around $500 in 1984. The necessary component of the VCR, the VHS cassette tape, was priced anywhere between $60 and $80 (“VCR’s” 43). The VCR was an obvious advance for the film industry, but how would the world of cable and broadcasting react to such an invention? There arose VCR enthusiasts, skeptics, and (as always) undecided as the VCR’s growth become quite apparent.

Although the benefits of a VCR are apparent to today’s society, the device had its opponents in 1984. Advertisers saw the VCR as a threat to their industry due to the capability of commercial “zapping”. Because programs were able to be recorded, commercials were capable of being edited or deleted (zapped). While many advertisers saw the VCR as a hindrance, others saw it as a creative challenge for the industry. According to Robert E. Buchanan, executive vice president, U.S. media director, J. Walter Thompson USA, the solution was in the hands of the advertisers. Commercials should attract the viewer and be “those that tell a story, the vignette type that you can get

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